Bookshop – Mike’s favourites

-- Books I have read by authors who every writer would love to be as good as --

My first choice is Tom Sharpe, a South African teacher who was not impressed with the ruling apartheid government and his scathing books reflected this in a way that is seldom used in such a brutal climate.


Long before I ever decided to try my luck as a writer I was lucky to have come across a number of brilliant authors, some of whom made me laugh out loud (embarrassing in a crowded bus I can tell you) and others who managed to keep me transfixed with their plot lines with their ability to dare me to stop turning the page.
My first choice is Tom Sharpe and the first of his books that was recommended to me (by sheer luck) was RIOTOUS ASSEMBLY, a title that managed to encompass the storyline from start to finish. Sharpe, an erudite man, managed to wring a farcical tale from South Africa's dark past, successfully painting crass characters whose ability to create chaos seemed quite a natural talent. I give this book ten out of ten.


Well, I couldn't wait to read his next book and I wasn't disappointed. A sequel to Riotous assembly did the trick, renewing the reader's acquaintance with some of the maniacs who populated the first one.

Ten out of ten again.


Tom Sharpe moved to England, his South African hatchet job on the police too near the knuckle for the authorities. His new character, Henry Wilt, tied to a daft job and a domineering wife, was to give him grief and us, hilarious pleasure. Read it and laugh.

-- In later years I found TERRY PRATCHETT, another writer who's global reputation climbed the dizzying heights with his tales of the trials and tribulations of the strange inhabitants of his parallel world. Best seller status doesn't come without real talent (unless it's about sex). --
Sadly, he is no longer with us.

The colour of magic

This was Terry Pratchett's first Discworld novel and my third. I could not begin to summarise the storyline and you just need to read it. The brief supplied with the book should be good enough to tempt you. "The Disc’s very existence is about to be threatened by a strange new blight: the world’s first tourist, upon whose survival rests the peace and prosperity of the land. Unfortunately, the person charged with maintaining that survival in the face of robbers, mercenaries and, well, Death, is a spectacularly inept wizard…"

Another ten.


My first Pratchett, another lucky find, on the top of a filing cabinet left by a pal who didn't get the plot. Subtlety was required and he confessed it was always his weak point. His loss my gain.
"'Look after the dead', said the priests, 'and the dead will look after you.'
Wise words in all probability, but a tall order when, like Teppic, you have just become the Pharaoh of a small and penniless country rather earlier than expected, and your treasury is unlikely to stretch to the building of a monumental pyramid to honour your dead father." As you can tell, I only recommend books if they are tens.