26 June, 2008

Two Reviews

Two, because i've been quite slacky about posting lately ~ though not about writing.  Let's go then, first with:

Riotous Assembly
Tom Sharpe

It seems to me that the last time i read one of Tom Sharpe's works i was less than pleased with it; let me place it firmly on the record now, that that is not the case this time around. Not at all. This was the first Sharpe i ever read, and i clearly remember being in the library at Loretto, sitting in the window beside the newspaper stand, devouring it. It was just as funny this time around, or more so. The absurdity is so overwhelming that really i cannot even begin to describe any of the plot machinations or characters, except to say it takes place in the South Africa of the National Party, with all that implies; the actual events are, perhaps it is to be hoped, just a little too extreme even for that country at that time, but the farcical nature of the policemen who try to prevent crime by committing it, cover up death by causing it, and show respect by destroying the object of respect is a joy to read for anyone who ever has had reason to doubt the efficiency of ~ let alone the philosophical basis for ~ a police force. I hope that one day i may cause someone as much pleasure as they read something of mine as i have gained from Tom Sharpe here.

Enjoy that?  Good, then there's:

The Way it Was
Ken Walters

A collection of eleven sermons by Ken Walters, until last year Warden of the Church of St. Michael and all Angels, Aberystwyth. I have heard him preach a few times, though none of these sermons, and reading them i can hear his voice: He has a very distinctive style which comes through in each selection in the collection. Perhaps it arises from being a professor in a complicated subject ~ applied mathematics, what i think is called engineering in North America ~ which needs slowly and carefully explaining to occasionally half-witted students; he is thereby prepared to spend time explaining to a slow congregation the particular points he feels led to make. Several of the sermons i have heard, and all in this collection, are what you might call character studies, a small autobiographical snippet from, usually, a lesser known character of the New Testament; Ken has an ability to draw all the known facts of, for example Silas, together, and present them as a coherent whole, giving what might well be new insight into how and just why Silas acted as he did at certain points in his story. Well worth listening to, and worth reading, as well.

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