Sharpe T., The Gropes, Arrow, 2010
I began reading Tom Sharpe‘s The Gropes thinking it might be good to have a laugh from time to time. And laugh I did. But maybe not the kind of laughter I expected or possibly not the kind I needed. If I said ‘restrained hilarity’ would that seem too much of a contradiction? I found the book extremely British: stiff upper lip combined with delirious humour that reminded me of Monty Python or the Goon Show. Under the cover of enforced normality the most absurd and catastrophic things happen. What interested me most – probably because I am exploring the question myself in my own writing – is the way Sharpe portrays how people continually tell themselves the wildest of stories about what happens around them and take those stories for reality and then act on them producing the most absurd, if not tragic results.