Light hearted reading from Tom Sharpe

Desperate for some light-hearted but witty and hilariously funny reading…look no further.

Wilt in NowhereEvery now and then I get to a stage where I just need some light hearted, and if I’m lucky enough laugh out loud reading. And ever since discovering the joys of  Tom Sharpe and his wonderfully witty collection of Wilt books I have thankfully found my fail safe writer to turn to when in such a situation.

I recently found myself in this very same predicament and instinctively I scoured my book shelves for my sacred collection of Wilt books. It got me thinking though, do all avid readers find themselves coming to this stage every now and then? And if so which writers do you turn too?

I first discovered Tom Sharpe about 4 years ago when a friend of mine told me that I had to try his books, she was adamant  I would love his style of writing. We were perusing my favourite book shop, Barter Books, and she picked up a few of his novels. I have to admit that at first I was a little sceptical, if you’ve never seen one of the covers of his books then I’ve attached some to this post. All of the books have unusual caricatures of people in a variety of odd situations. Like the cover for ‘Wilt’ which depicts a rather crude image of a man stuffing an inflatable doll down a pot hole. My first reaction was what on earth? There not really the sort of covers my books tend to have but with a ‘it’s good to try new things’ attitude I decided to give them ago.

The first of his books that I decided to try was in fact ‘Wilt’ (maybe I was subconsciously drawn to the peculiar book cover after all?), which like all of the Wilt books centres around the satirical but wonderfully grumpy character of Henry Wilt. Wilt is a man for whom life’s grievances have left him with a rather cynical outlook on life. Harassed by his physically overbearing and emotionally draining wife Eva, Wilt’s patience and attitude to life have been severely tampered with. Worsened still by his working life as a teacher in a polytechnic school teaching English to a group of apprentices and buthcers on day release who are obliged to attend his course. They attend begrudgingly and succesfully win in chipping away at his spirit with disparaging but wickedly entertaining comments.

Wilt might sound like a rather dull and miserable character but far from it, think more of an endearing but grumpy uncle who spends his time at all family events trying to get away from your bossy over powering aunt in the hopes of some peaceful respite. Times the hilarity of the situation by 100 and your getting cloe to the character of Wilt. For Henry Wilt and his attending catastrophes are told with so much humour and with such dry and witty prose that it is impossible not to be blown over by the marvellously comical way that Tom Shapre writes.

All of the Wilt stories centre around wildly outrageous events and plot lines that will have you literally crying with laughter. I often find myself reading a Wilt book and being shocked by just how far Sharpe takes the Wilt character and his crazy antics. For instance take Wilt on High which begins rather innocently with Wilts sadistic fantasies of escaping his domineering and demanding wife by conjuring up images of ridiculous murder scenarios. Now don’t get me wrong, the book isn’t as dark as I’m probably making out. And like all of Wilt’s grandiose plans there’s something pityingly amusing in Wilt’s desperate attempts for some semblance of control and order. These outlandish notions of murder are thought up really rather harmlessly when Wilt has suffered a few too many beers, and they are more a comfort for him as he braces himself for a lifetime spent severely under the thumb.

But like all of Wilt’s endeavours an unfortunate series of events always ensues and Wilt, as seems to be his misfortune in life, finds himself in seriously hot water. Somewhere from the drunken ramblings of Wilt’s frustrations comes the entrance of blow up doll, a pot hole and a suspected ‘murder scene’ at the local polytechnic school. And off course Wilt is smack bam the middle of the whole mess. Add into the mix a now missing wife and a antagonist policeman who has it in for Wilt and you will find yourself in a riotous novel.

All of the Wilt books follow on in the same vain and to date I’ve read Wilt in Nowhere, Wilt, The Wilt Alternative, and Wilt on High. Amongst all of those books are a series of entertaining and unbelievably hilarious stories that as a reader I could just never have predicted.

I still need to read Wilt in Triplicate and The Wilt Inheritance but I’m saving them for when I really need a good laugh out loud, light hearted bit of reading. I’m running low on supplies though so are there any books like this that can provide the same sort of sometimes necessary light relief reading? Any recommendations? Perhaps you too get to this partiuclar stage and have a writer that you always turn too? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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2 thoughts on “Light hearted reading from Tom Sharpe

  1. If you haven’t read his two South Africa novels, or The Throwback, you really must — I think Throwback is his strongest work, and I’ve read everything he’s published. I have probably re-read throwback at least 15 times in the past 25 years. First time I read it, I had to put it down repeatedly, because I was laughing so hard I was crying and couldn’t see the words to keep reading!

  2. I haven’t read any of them yet Randy but I do have The Throwback lying about my room somewhere so I’ll dig that out and give it a go. If it’s anything like The Wilt Books I’ll be crying with laughter too. Tom Sharpe is a genius. Who’s your favourite character from the Wilt books? I think mine has to be his wife Eva!

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