Top critical review
Not side-splitting, but some worthwhile stuff, both funny and serious.
on 28 April 2010
This career-spanning anthology (Millelany?) includes poems, sketches, stories and excerpts from Spike's novels and war memoirs. It is organised in sections such as "Cracking Up" and "Beaming Down", whose titles bear no obvious connection to the contents. Much of the writing goes for instant and momentary half-chuckles, both trivial and wearing in quantity. The poetry particularly (at least that selected here) is mostly throw-away nonsense, though there are a few more serious efforts that earn their keep.
Similarly, the prose is at its best when some feeling and sense of the man comes through, somewhere in the relentless barrage of wise-cracks. The excerpts from "Puckoon" suggest something of substance, and those from his war memoirs evoke both the fun and the strain of chaotic events. Near the end is the script for an episode of an ill-fated broad sitcom about multiculturalism: revelling in its political incorrectness, it's perhaps the funniest thing in the book.
Although I was only moderately impressed, Spike did have a facility with language and word-play. It would have been worth reading this entertaining collection just to acquire a few wonderful nuggets like these:
"The M.O. gave us all some foul-tasting pills that left you feeling like you'd slept with an Arab's toe in your mouth."
"Gad, it's hot... You can grab a handful of air and squeeze the sweat out of it."
And from that sitcom, an exchange in London between Van Gogh (a Pakistani) and Colonel Grope (a bigot):
VAN GOGH: We are told that you feed starving Indians.
COLONEL: Yes, but we don't serve the food here. You have to go to Calcutta, lie on the pavement and hold up one withered arm with a tin.