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07 June 2013 @ 09:05 am
RIP Tom Sharpe  
One of my favorite sickos is gone. Here's a review I did years ago
I have recently been enjoying the fiction of a literary sociopath. The covers of the Vintage paperbacks of Tom Sharpe's novels generally quote Roy Blount's praise of Sharpe as "the best of the nasty Brit novelists since Evelyn Waugh." What this means is that Sharpe has a crisp, witty prose style; a remarkable gift for complex plotting; and no apparent sense of the moral significance of what is being described, which is played entirely for laughs.

Typical of this approach is The Throwback, in which Lockhart Flawse, a moral imbecile with far more developed skills in hunting (human and other sorts of prey) maddens, tortures, and kills a set of victims whose one offense is living in rent-controlled property Flawse and his bride want to sell at a profit. (New Yorkers may find this part particularly unfunny.) Now my own reaction to this was to laugh uproariously at most of it, noticing the moral aspects only while being grossed out by one of the more repulsive and lovingly described tortures, but those who are either more morally concerned with their reading-or simply more squeamish may find the whole thing intolerable.
Sharon Kahndreamshark on June 7th, 2013 03:05 pm (UTC)
I don't think I'd like it, but good job pinpointing and describing a surprisingly pervasive sub-genre.

I remember struggling for quite a while to express the reason that I was repulsed by the movie "A Fish Called Wanda" and finally arrived at an analysis similar to yours. The movie was very popular at the time (1988) but in case you didn't see it... it was a "comedy heist" movie. It was so cleverly written, stylishly produced, and perfectly paced that the viewer was helplessly seduced into rooting for the protagonists, who are actually revolting sociopaths. The moral of the movie appears to be that ugly, lumpish people deserve to die (or have their pets killed and eaten raw) and that this is funny if the people doing it are attractive and witty.
El Coyote Gordo: coy2supergee on June 7th, 2013 03:46 pm (UTC)
I remember. I was amused by that one too.
John M. Burtjohn_m_burthotm on June 7th, 2013 03:52 pm (UTC)
Yes. Stories like this are amusing, but they don't make a good model for public policy.