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Jul. 23rd, 2016

inevitableentresol: a Victorian gentleman with the body of a carrot (Default)
Tom Sharpe novels are full of terrible people doing terrible things. I loved his books as a kid. When you're repeatedly instructed that adults are wise people who should be respected and obeyed, there's nothing more subversive than discovering a funny book about adults misbehaving in the most shocking of ways. As an adult, I already know that people can be appalling. It's actually kind of depressing and I don't want to be reminded of it so much.

One of Sharpe's earliest books, Porterhouse Blue, is still a very good satire about the British university system. Unfortunately, The Gropes is not a satire. It's barely even funny, and the characters are drawn too far from life to be a commentary on anything.

The whole book has rape as its premise. I think there were over a dozen rapes in the first chapter alone. It starts off with Vikings raping women, but soon settles into its main theme, which is generations of ugly Grope family women kidnapping and force-marrying men. If this book had been written by a women I'm pretty definite it would be labelled as "feminism gone mad". As an elderly male figure of the establishment, there's barely a murmur about in in the reviews. The funny thing is that Sharpe is probably a femininst of sorts. His women are allowed to be ugly or beautiful, stupid or clever, weak or strong, but they're always very definite personalities and they're always influential to the action.

The one explicit sex scene in the book is really good, a touching hook up between a middle-aged man and woman. I've noticed that comedy writers often do the best sex scenes.

Sharpe also has wonderful flow to his sentence stucture. This may be not such a great book, and it's really short and ends strangely, but he still hasn't lost his rhythm. (6/10)

Currently reading: Bookman by Lavie Tidhar, set in an alternate-reality London where lizards are the royal family. It's incredibly imaginative so far, but not so good on plot or pacing.

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