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March 15, 2011


Richard J

Isn't this the plot of a Tom Sharpe novel? the Throwback, IIRC.


It's been a while since I read The Throwback, but I vaguely recall sex toys (and, this being Tom Sharpe, a cheese grater) making an appearance. Wikipedia sort of confirms this.

Richard J

On overnight reflection, I think it might be Ancestral Vices instead.

God, I really wasted my teenage years.


I read one Tom Sharpe book because the blurb on an early Terry Pratchett novel said "Not as cynical as Douglas Adams, funnier than Tom Sharpe... simply a pure joy" and since I liked Adams and Pratchett I reckoned that anyone else mentioned in the same sentence as them might be rather good too.

In retrospect I should have read that sentence slightly more closely.

Pratchett is indeed funnier than Tom Sharpe. Come to that, the fourth edition of Brusca & Brusca's acclaimed textbook "Invertebrates" is funnier than Tom Sharpe, because Brusca (or possibly Brusca) actually managed to include a joke in it. It was about the nauplius larva, if I remember correctly.


Of the three mentioned by ajay, Pratchett's the only one I've read and reread to any extent: not all the books work, but I find his high points more interesting than the studied whimsy of H2G2 etc. (Also, Small Gods beats any amount of the would-be satire of the sodding Electric Monk.)

I quite liked Riotous Assembly, Blott on the Landscape and Porterhouse Blue - I remember laughing, but usually in a somewhat appalled way.


Adam's medium was the radio. Everything else was a pale shadow, though his Dr Who stuff had its moments.

Sharpe. Funnier than Howard Jacobson. Less annoying than PJ O'Rourke. Better written than Barbara Cartland.

Ken MacLeod

I find Douglas Adams' comic writing deeply melancholic to the point of being depressing, and Terry Pratchett's quite the opposite. I suspect the difference has to do with the sense of underlying logic in Pratchett, versus the sense of arbitrariness and absurdity in Adams. I get the same sense of arbitrariness in what I've looked at of Sharpe, and I didn't like it at all. Same with (closer to home) Robert Rankin.

It may be just a matter of personal taste. Or does that logic/absurdity map to a widely-understood polarity?

(Yes, I've just asked an 'Is it me, or ... ?' question. I'm 57.)


I think this is the like people/hate people split that I've also noticed when comparing the rather good "Fast Show" with the terrible "Little Britain".


Is it just me, or are there other personal pronouns?

(Shamelessly nicked from the Metro letters page, and I really do mean shamelessly.)

Proper comment here.

Richard J

The link doesn't work, sadly.


It may be just a matter of personal taste. Or does that logic/absurdity map to a widely-understood polarity?

Marxists are as antipathetic to contingency and chance in their humour as in their historiography. Discuss. (15 marks)


Sharpe was one of those writers who was inspired by rebelling against censorship, and found that without it he couldn't quite find his mojo. (This is why Christa Wolf didn't leave East Germany, or at least why she said she didn't.) The South African books are viciously funny; the ones about Britain, a bit crap.


Alex: that reminds me of the observation that, since censorship both stimulates great art and literature and encourages people to consume it through samizdat, it might be worth disbanding the Arts Council and using its budget to set up a small but efficient secret police force to persecute British authors.


Richard - it does now.

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