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RICHARDSON, MAURICE. THE EXPLOITS OF ENGLEBRECHT 2000 Savoy Books. 

 

One of the most bizarre and unlikely but compulsively readable series of tall tales ever produced. Englebrecht is a pugilistic dwarf who is the hero of the surrealistís sportsmanís club.He has achieved this status by fighting boxing matches against grandfather clocks. One of his greatest exploits is to fight Big Ben. A small man who dares to challenge the mechanisms of time itself is a hero indeed.Such is just one of the bizarre, hilarious and sometimes genuinely exciting exploits narrated here. Another is a football match against the Martians, asking questions about how fair it is to play footie against creatures with multiple legs, and heads, who are able to fly and have other special powers.A favourite exploit for me is the Witch-hunt. This is a clay pigeon shoot, except the targets are not clays, but real witches on broomsticks. Englebrecht wrestles monsters from the deep, or at least in the bottom of the canal anyway, which seems to be occupied by Lovecraftian Cthulhu. Richardson takes a slight jokey idea and presents it with dry with and astonishing inventiveness of language. You feel genuine tension when it looks like Big Ben might get the better of the Dwarf, and genuinely relieved when he wins the struggle and adds another trophy to the club wall. The stories, all very short in length, have the feel of the best of fantasy and science fiction, and even horror at heart. They were highly praised by major SF writers like Michael Moorcock. At times, the sport also becomes politically anarchic, as in setting after judges with hounds as in a foxhunt. Even the witch-hunt makes some readers feel sorry for the witches. The Exploits are a gloriously silly and highly readable neglected classic. 

 

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