The last book I finished was the second novel in the Spud series – The Madness Continues. I mentioned the first book on Day 3 and Day 4.
I thoroughly enjoyed Spud number 2, although I must admit that it was not as funny as the first one. John Milton (Spud) returns (along with Mad Dog, Rambo, Vern, Boggo, Simon and Fatty) for his 2nd year at the private boarding school. The absence of Gecko, who died in the first book, is duly noted.
We are introduced to a new set of first years (nicknamed the Normal 7) and apart from them there are hardly any new pivotal characters in the sequel. In the classroom and on the cricket pitch and rugby field the usual shenanigans ensue.
The highlight of the book ironically, is Spud’s trip to England with his family. Wombat is in top form once again, and if you thought that she’s one of a kind, you’ll be disturbed to learn that she has a sister – Dingbat, who’s clearly cut from the same cloth. We only get to meet Dingbat briefly however but we are still kept entertained by crazy Wombat and her imperialist tendencies and anecdotes.
I’m happy to report that nobody dies at the end of the Madness Continues. But there is a tragedy that takes the form of an expulsion (I won’t say who gets expelled), and the consequences of Rambo’s affair with Eve, finally come to fruition.
Sequels tend to have a bad reputation for not being as good as their predecessors. I don’t want to write off Spud the second as less brilliant but I’m beginning to understand why it wasn’t as exciting as the first.
In the first book, everything is new and we begin to suss out all the main players and decide who we like or who we don’t like. By the second book, we already know everybody; we already know the ins and outs of the school and what life at home with the Miltons is like. In spite of this, it’s still an enjoyable read, thanks largely to Wombat!
Let’s hope the movie version of The Madness Continues, when it eventually comes out (van de Ruit has apparently withheld the rights to the movie because he wants more people to read the book first!), includes more of her antics. That would do the title some justice.
Wait hold on, I hear you say, wasn’t Spud the one that made you laugh? Er, yes.
You see I’m not sure whether John van de Ruit is a goddamn genius or a flippin’ sadist for having done this. My emotions underwent such an unhealthy fluctuation while reading this book that by the end of it I was convinced I was bipolar.
John Cleese plays The Guv with Troye Sivan as Spud in the movie version of the book
I can only imagine what my poor boyfriend was thinking when, after days of bragging to him about how funny this book is and reading extracts to him, he finds me bawling my eyes out as I try to explain inbetween my sobs that Gecko had died.
Everyone I know who read the book was left more or less traumatised by Gecko’s death. After all the incredible humour we were subjected to, the book ended on such a low, I was left with this incredibly empty feeling in the pit of my stomach.
As a result, I officially hate Van de Ruit for having been so so cruel. The bastard.
This however, will not deter me from getting the next two books in the series. Lets hope the madness (and not the sadness) does indeed continue….
Spud had me rolling around on the floor with tears in my eyes. Even my cats gave me quizzical looks when I found myself in stitches from reading the antics and quips of the Crazy 8, Wombat, The Guv and off course those parents from hell, the Miltons.
Aaah, Wombat. John van de Ruit really should write a book devoted solely to that mad crone. The Chronicles Of Wombat or something. In fact I don’t care what he calls it, I’d still be the first to go and buy that book. She’s the type of woman you love to read about but secretly relieved that you don’t know in real life. I still cannot believe she was based on an actual person.
The only problem with Spud? The humour only lasts to a certain point. Then the tears of laughter turn to tears of another sort and well, let’s just say I’m not looking forward to tomorrow’s post…
Back in the 1990’s when I was a music junkie and would sit by my radio, as if waiting for a secret message via Morse code from across the Atlantic, a new cause was created in South Africa as the country’s new found democratic freedom took over from an oppressive regime. I remember very vividly the fervour surrounding the South African music industry at the time and the “call-to-arms” in support of local artists. As a conscientious young teen (who never did her homework but preferred to read and listen to music instead), I jumped on the bandwagon. As a result Johnny Clegg, Just Jinger, Urban Creep and Qcumba Zoo (remember those guys?) became my local heroes who had my full attention and support.
More than 10 years have passed, and I now feel like a complete hypocrite. As I continue on my literary journey, I feel a sense of déjà vu as the lack of support for local talent comes under the spotlight once again. This time, however, the SA music industry is the least of my worries as my focus has now shifted to South African Literature instead.
It began two weeks when I found out that Cape Town author Lauren Beukes won the prestigious Arthur C. Clarke award (for 2011) for her novel Zoo City. For those who are not sci-fi fans, let me tell you that internationally this is a very big deal. So why wasn’t a big deal made of it here then?
Even the manner in which I discovered this (from a ranting article written by a local music star of all things) is something I attribute to providence. (Look out for my next post)
It was then that I realized with absolute horror, that I do not personally own any books by South African authors. I haven’t even read John van de Ruit’s Spud yet(!).
Have I been so blinded by my bias attitude towards “classic European literature” that I have stupidly snubbed some great books without realizing it? The fact that the movie version of Spud starring the irreplaceable John Cleese was not enough to make me buy the book means I certainly have been blinded. But now its time to rectify this.
Exclusive Books, SA’s leading bookstore chain, is now doing what radio stations were doing a decade ago. Promoting home-grown talent. Their “Homebru” sales feature has got me excited and I will be redeeming myself today. As Seneca once said, we are citizens, not of a single country, but of the world. This does not mean, however, that we should ignore what’s right in front of us.
The one thing I’ve realized on my journey, is that the support and advice of fellow writers can be invaluable. How can I expect support from my fellow South Africans when I don’t even support them?
Forget charity, the road to world domination begins at home 🙂