Tom Sharpe takes of the pee of university life, again, in a return to Porterhouse college, Cambridge.
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This is a funny book, and probably better relaxation that watching consumer media, like the TV. But there is no sense of insight into the psychology of the characters, and it doesn't appear to offer solutions to societies problems, other than alerting the reader to the stereotypical weirdness that some people opt for.
Having said that, I've just reviewed The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time.
Henry Wilt, tied to a daft job and a domineering wife, has just been passed over for promotion yet again. Ahead of him at the Polytechnic stretch years of trying to thump literature into the heads of plasterers, joiners, butchers and the like.
And things are no better at home where his massive wife, Eva, is given to boundless and unpredictable fits of enthusiasm -for transcendental meditation, yoga or the trampoline. But if Wilt can do nothing about his job, he can do something about his wife, in imagination at least, and his fantasies grow daily more murderous and more concrete.
After a peculiarly nasty experience at a party thrown by particularly nasty Americans, Wilt finds himself in several embarrassing positions: Eva stalks out in stratospheric dudgeon, and Wilt, under the inspiration of gin, puts one of his more vindictive fantasies into effect. But suspicions are instantly aroused and Wilt rapidly achieves an unenviable notoriety in the role of The Man Helping Police With Their Enquiries. Or is he exactly helping? Wilt's problem -although he's on the other side of the fence -is the same as Inspector Flint's: where is Eva Wilt? But Wilt begins to flourish in the heat of the investigation, and as the police stoke the flames of circumstantial evidence, Wilt deploys all his powers to show that the Law can't tell a Missing Person from a hole in the ground.
Tom Sharpe has taken a great stride towards being considered a major craftsman in the art of farce
This satirical book has a slicing wit. Superb farce, you will laugh. Tom Sharpe's farce has a gritty satirical edge to it, and the world his central character inhabits is all too real, though the characters are OTT caricatures. Tom Sharpe has the ingenious dexterity of a music-hall illusionist.
"I first read this book some twenty years ago on a train to London about to embark on my career in Higher Education. For the first time in my life I laughed out loud at a book. I sat on the train in public and could not help laughing at nearly every page, until tears streamed down my face. Tom Sharpes sartorial humour had not been surpassed since. Plumbers four, blow up dolls and further educationalists have never been the same since. Hugely funny."