Book: Crump

crumpCrump by P.J. Vanston is, according to the cover, a “darkly comic and scathing satire about life at a modern British university”. The book tells the story of Kevin Crump, newly appointed lecturer at the fictional Thames Metropolitain University, conveniently located in the buildings of the actual University of Greenwich. From page one, the book is indeed scathing: a scathing attack on “modern universities”, political correctness and university life in Britain in the 21st century. The reader is taken for a fast paced ride of ever more insane stories, involving anything from a transexual head of department (for the sake of the career of course!), academics running degree mills in developing countries, equal opportunity trainers beating up white guys and the main character being raped by a fellow male colleague after being beaten up by protestors on campus… All in all, the action unfolding is faster paced than light – and just when I thought that now the author really had told the most absurd story possible, he manages to bring out an even more absurd one, keeping me reading. The pure ridiculousness and pace of the storyline, however, is also the books big downfall: Few characters are well developed, no storyline is advanced before it gets taken over by the next one – and full of stereotypical, underdeveloped representations of students, staff and just about everyone involved in the higher education system – making “a normal” tabloid story look positively civilised. If you are addicted to Channel 4′s Campus series, but find it all a little bit too normal and toned down on TV, then I suspect you may enjoy the book. Otherwise, even the currently discounted price of £5.91 on Amazon (regular price £7.99) seems quite a hefty price to pay – especially, with more intelligent and funny campus novels like Degrees ‘R Us being much cheaper (when you own a Kindle!).