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.