A publisher in London wrote of the novel Weed, “… it’s really witty and very strong … I would compare the writing to Robert Rankin, or a really satirically biting Tom Sharpe, and will say again that I’m really impressed by it.”
I confess I have never read Robert Rankin (but really ought to now) but I was chuffed with the reference to Tom Sharpe.
I have read and appreciated a great many of Mr Sharpe’s novels but when writing Weed I didn’t have his work in mind at all. I was not really thinking of any particular authors. I was certainly very influenced by Terry Gilliam’s film Brazil, and Lindsay Anderson’s If, Britannia Hospital and O Lucky Man! I was definitely trying to channel some kind of counter-culture thing. No, Mr Sharpe hadn’t crossed my mind.
Oddly, my father, not much of a reader or appreciator of books, and certainly not a fan of vulgarity, turned me on Tom Sharpe. I think that was Blot on the Landscape and I was a teenager, so Mr Sharpe must have been a rising star at that point in time.
I appreciated the work for its brutal satire, its polemic, its vitriol. Sharpe tracked down folly, inanity, unfairness and hypocrisy and beat it with his sense of humour until it looked as silly as it could get.
No, despite the connection that the publisher made, Mr Sharpe didn’t come into the Weed world. However, he does with my next story, currently a work in progress. Last year starting on this new project (Sir Hades) I tried to draw on some things I have learned from Tom Sharpe — and also, as unalike as he is, Terry Pratchett. What have I learned? Well, let’s get this story finished and then we’ll see. I’ll be more than chuffed if anyone makes the same comparison they did with Weed.
At this time when Mr Sharpe has come back into my thoughts, the man himself has departed this world. He died just a few days ago.
Remembering Tom Sharpe.