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Of Small Gods and Great Men

I remember reading Pratchett for the first time, back in my early twenties. I went to Dreamhaven in Minneapolis, where they had the UK imports with the Kirby covers, and I would buy one every few weeks when I could afford them.

I enjoyed the first few--they were fun enough to keep reading--and then I got to Small Gods and I remember actually yelling at the book "Where were you when I was sixteen and needed you?"

Then I found the guards and Granny Weatherwax and...well, yeah.

Eventually I found people who also understood these things. I am not saying that you have to love Pratchett to be cool, but a great many cool people do love Pratchett. (I also remember the point where I completely wrote off a job when I tried to explain Hogfather to the boss and he told me that it sounded really stupid.)

Reviewers compare my writing to Pratchett's occasionally. It is enormously flattering and also a bit frightening. That is a terrifyingly high bar to set a book up to clear, and very few books can actually stick the landing. I suspect that by now the readers have learned to be a little skeptical of such reviews, because no one did it like he did.

It's easy to be funny. It's hard to be humane. To put both on the same page and not give the reader whiplash is a rare and extraordinary talent.

I'm glad he finished the Aching books before he left.

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I was sad to hear of the death of Terry Pratchett. He was a wonderful writer, and as far as I know, he was a lovely man.

I said to my husband one day, "You know, Terry Pratchett reminds me of another famous writer."

Husband: Who?

Me: Well, he has deep insight into human nature and writes fabulous prose; some lines are so well phrased that they beg to be read aloud, just to savor their perfection. His books are silly little comedies on the surface, and one can enjoy them on that level if one wishes. But there's also a deeper meaning, and he tells us quite a lot about the human condition, for people who want to listen.

Husband: You can't possibly mean ...

Me: Shakespeare!

Yes, I think Mr. Pratchett was a Shakespeare for our time.

I think the thing I like best about Terry Pratchett's books -- even better than the glorious prose -- is that he thoroughly understands human nature and loves humanity anyway. That's so astonishingly rare and so salutary.

Thanks for all the fun and all the lessons, Mr. Pratchett. I think you probably had a good time while you were here, and I'm glad of that, because you certainly gave a good time to so many others.

Edited at 2015-03-12 07:42 pm (UTC)

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