Wilt (1976) by Tom Sharpe is probably the funniest book I have ever read. And I’m talking laugh out loud funny. As an English student with months and months of lockdown stretching ahead of me, I probably should have made a list of every great Victorian novel and slowly made my way through them with a sense of dignified purpose and achievement. Obviously, this was not the case and, as my Netflix history will prove, I have spent very little of this holiday actually reading. However, once I picked up Wilt, I forgot all about a fourth binge of the entirety of Community (shocking, I know) and was hooked.
The plot revolves around the exploits of a quintessentially mundane lecturer, Henry Wilt, at a British technical college. He is completely ruled by his wife Eva, and is generally so passive a protagonist that he is thrust into ludicrously comic situations. The speed and intensity of the plot development relentlessly drives you through Wilt’s misadventures, almost defying you to put the book down. Without spoiling too much, I promise you will be gasping and laughing at everything from frenzied manslaughter investigations to orgies and latex fetishes (don’t worry, it’s honestly not some weird softcore porn).
I was first drawn to this book (please don’t judge me), by the striking cover image of a man holding a bottle of wine, standing over a crater, staring at the sizeable legs of an apparently very lifelike ‘inflatable sex doll with a working vagina’ (bet you didn’t expect to read that). I have to warn you that Tom Sharpe’s humour is spectacularly inappropriate, so I would not recommend for those looking for Austen-esque decorum, but Wilt is the perfect light-hearted comedy to relieve the pressures of unfinished essays, lockdown or just general life stresses.
– James Meredith
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