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Riotous Assembly, Tom Sharpe

David Baboulene, a friend in Britain, and I sent each other some favorite books. Since David hadn’t read much SF/F, I sent him Jonathan Carroll’s Bones of the Moon and James P. Blaylock’s The Last Coin. In turn, he sent me some British humor: Tom Sharpe and Clive James. James’ books were quite interesting–a well-written autobiography with some sly touches that never quite had me belly-laughing, but kept me reading. Sharpe, on the other hand, I fell into with a gusto. From page one of Riotous Assembly, my hands were doing double-duty turning pages and trying to keep my sides from splitting.

Imagine the writer you would get if you mixed P.G. Wodehouse and Hunter S. Thompson, and then placed them in South Africa; that’s Tom Sharpe. He indeed manages to combine the wit and language skills, as well as the awkward situations of Wodehouse with the sharpened pen of satire and low opinion of humans from Thompson, and his target is South Africa and the police forces there (I believe that he was jailed there for awhile, and ultimately deported).

Upon finishing Riotous Assembly, I rushed to see if I could find any more by this Sharpe fellow. Luckily, Vintage has brought him across the sea for our enjoyment. Indecent Exposure is the sequel to Riotous Assembly and just as funny; perhaps even funnier, given the satire of the Dornford Yates club (a group of Englishmen who adore the veddy British writer Dornford Yates who is clearly an analog for Wodehouse) within the larger South African satire. I also read Wilt, in which he drops some of the satirical and plays the perverted Wodehouse more. Wilt is okay, but I would suggest you try the South African novels first. If you’re like me, you’ll have to read Wilt or any of his other novels then–just because you can’t get enough of this amazing fellow.

[Finished 28 March 1992]


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