WILT ON HIGH by Tom Sharpe

WILT ON HIGH

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Though The Wilt Alternative (1980) made it dismally clear that Sharpe had pretty much exhausted the comic possibilities of the hapless, misanthropic Henry Wilt character, here they both are again--in another strained series of slapsticky, mildly satiric episodes. As before, the better gags stem from Wilt's labors in the scruffiest regions of British academia: he's now Head of Liberal Studies at the Fenland College of Arts and Technology, even if his new title (in the rather dated send-up here) is Head of Communication Skills and Expressive Attainment. And his major woes begin when, alerted to the fact that a female student is ""shooting up"" in the loo, he investigate--only to be accused of peeping-tomming (by an ultra-butch lady phys-ed instructor). . . and then suspected of drug-pushing by the local coppers. Meanwhile, at home, Wilt's much-loathed quadruplet daughters are up to their usual foulness, threatening to become ""computer-addicted technocrats with about as much moral sense as Ilse Koch on a bad day."" Likewise, wife Eva is still as dim as ever: this time she's decided to rev up Wilt's fading libido by secretly feeding him an aphrodisiac from a local quack--which backfires, of course, giving Wilt ""the distinct impression that something like a battalion of army ants had taken possession of his penis and were busily digging in."" (As in The Wilt Alternative, Sharpe seems downright obsessed with painful, embarrassing assaults on the male genitalia.) And eventually, when Wilt's condition leads him to behave oddly during one of his weekly teaching stints at the local US airbase, he's suspected of being a Russian spy--while Eva is sure that he's carrying on with ""an American airbase slut""; finally, however, Eva joins with a dippy contingent of Mothers Against the Bomb to free Wilt from his cartoon-American captors. A few of Wilt's sneering tirades are solidly funny (especially if you imagine them being screamed by John Cleese as Basil Fawlty)--but most of this farce is lame, silly, or schoolboy-smirky, with far too much reliance on bathroom-giggles and (for US readers) British slang.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1984
Publisher: Random House