The Madness Continues, by John van der Ruit
Review by Andrew Renard (St Andrews School, Grahamstown)
Just been asked to write a review of Spud…the Madness Continues.
Was told that, because I’m a teacher, I might be able to give an interesting insight. Quickly caught up on Spud (part 1). It’s written in as a diary (by Spud; real name John Milton), which can be tiresome. So, what will happen in part 2? Will Spud land the Mermaid? Will his balls drop? Can’t wait to get my hands on a copy.
Asked my matric class if any of them had a copy of the book, so I can get a head start before mine arrives. About 6 pupils were carrying a copy with them. Fortunately Peta had just finished hers while I was explaining the intricacies of subordinate clauses.
Later: Began reading the book during Silent Reading period. For a book that starts with a flat tyre, it is certainly not a let down. Started laughing before I had finished the first page. Was reminded by the tutor group that the period was called SILENT reading by the time I had reached page 2.
That night: Carried on reading in the bath. The book could be considered a South African equivalent of Tom Brown’s School Days. I did try reading that book once, but the print was too small (it was also boring!) There’s certainly no threat of falling a sleep in the bath while reading about Spud.
Spent a good deal of the weekend reading the book. Yes it is very funny, but it is difficult to sustain humour for such a great length of time. Kept getting flashbacks to Sue Townsend’s book The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole. The similarities are striking: confused teenage boy, love problems, peer pressure, mad parents, mad friends, mad teachers, mad animals; basically the day to day experience of adolescents. One thing Van de Ruit has in his favour is that, having experienced a private school boarding establishment first hand, his anecdotes are more believable. Also, unlike Townshend, he is a male writing from a male’s perspective (even if he is constantly referred to as a homo, a fag, a moffie and a monkey naaier)
So, is it great literature? Asked a large group of grade 8 and 9 boys how many of them had read the first installment of Spud. Nearly 60% of them had. Asked them what else they had read recently – there was a strange silence. Spud was more popular than Playboy and GQ combined and most of the boys thought it was far better written than the articles in Men’s Health. Some claimed the pictures in Men’s Health were better, though.
Finished reading. Will now have to buy a copy of the third installment when it is published to find out if Spud manages to lose his…but, hey, I better not give too much away. Van de Ruit, you’ve hit on a winning formula. Spud may not be Milton (the dead one) but he’s a helluva lot funnier.
If you haven’t read Spud (part 1) then see if your local bookshop is offering a “two-for-the-price-of-one” deal and buy both. If you have read Spud, there are two possibilities.
1. Buy...The Madness Continues if you don't already have a copy.
2. Maybe You didn't enjoy Spud? If this is the case, I suggest Dostoyevski's The Idiot may
be more to your taste.
Last Modified: Fri, 31 Mar 2017 12:16:41 SAST