A Book A Day Keeps The Doctor Away

Well, sort of. My flu is gone and I managed to get a whole lot of books read while lying on the couch and getting pampered. I can think of worse ways to spend the time. Okay, I could have done without the blinding headaches, but apart from that…

Two of the books I read were Riotous Assembly and Indecent Exposure, both by Tom Sharpe.

Like Wilt, by the same author, I had read both of them a while ago, back in the regrettable time when I still thought that reading translated books was a good idea.


Yeah. Good. Both of them. Although reading the books back to back makes you realize that they have been written fourteen years apart. The author’s style has changed ever so slightly and a few things don’t quite fit. Nothing major, nothing that would ruin the books, but enough to notice. But don’t let that distract you from the fact that together these books represent 700 pages of the finest, wittiest writing to come out of Britain in a long time.

All in all, Tom Sharpe’s books are just outrageously hilarious. Exhumed sex dolls, exploding ostriches, penile injections, elephant guns, old ladies with rubber fetishes. If it’s lewd and strange, it’s in there. And that is a good thing. I have never, ever in my life read books that are more crazy, and I find that I like it.

So get yourself to a bookshop or internet retailer of your choice and buy some Tom Sharpe. You won’t regret it.

P.S.: And you gotta love the dedication:

For all those members of the South African Police Force whose lives are dedicated to the preservation of Western Civilization in Southern Africa


A while ago I finished reading Wilt by Tom Sharpe. (Yeah, this review has been in the pipeline for a while, and for no good reason at that. Grrrr.)

My first experiences with the writings of Mr. Sharpe lie about fifteen years in the past, give or take a few. Thus it is understandable that I wasn’t sure if I would like them nowadays. That I had read those books in German doesn’t make my memories of them more trustworthy.

But the memories kept resurfacing. Unfortunately I have read quite a few books in German before switching to English somewhen around my fifteenth birthday, and I am trying to get my hands on original-language versions of all the ones that I liked. I feel I owe it to the books; you wouldn’t believe what incompetent translators have done to some of them. Trust me, it’s not pretty. Anyway, back then I read Wilt as well as Riotous Assembly and Indecent Exposure, and during another, recent attack of Sharpe nostalgia I ordered those books in English.

The other day month, at two in the morning and dead tired, I decided to read one of them. Since I couldn’t be bothered to figure out the reading order for the other two, I decided to start with Wilt. And I almost didn’t put the book down until I finished it.

At first I was a little disappointed. I had remembered the book to be more on the bellyache side of laugh out loud, and sadly this seemed not to be the case, but after sixty or seventy pages that quickly changed. The book takes a while to get going, but when it does, oh man is it funny. (Personally I wouldn’t mind some sort of distilled version of Wilt that only features the conversations between Wilt and Inspector Flint.)

Oh yes, and the scene where the blow-up doll is exhumed. Mustn’t forget that. A scene so epically funny that I dare say I have seldomly read three more entertaining consecutive pages in my life.

So. Wilt is good. And a lot more graphic than the German version. I wonder if the censor-fairy had her part in that. Maybe I just misremember things. (On the other hand, my parents did give me the book when I was fourteen or fifteen. Mhm…) I did wonder whether lesbian sex and rubber dolls might have been shocking in Britain in 1976, but have come to the conclusion that they probably weren’t. It was the 70s after all. And in any case, that’s not what this book is about. It is about a downtrodden community college teacher who finds the one thing in his life that he is certain about. That he drives the staff of the local police station potty in the process is only a pleasant side-effect of that.

There are more Wilt books out there and I think that that makes the world a brighter place somehow. Right now I have other stuff to read. Work stuff, research for my next novel, but after that I can’t wait to read more of Tom Sharpe’s delightful writing.