Library Life or Questions Your Professor didn't Prepare You For

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Terry Pratchett (1948 – 2015)

I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to post this today…I mean, I had originally planned on posting about how to create a book trailer, but then I read that Terry Pratchett had passed away.  I’ve never been very good at this kind of thing, but here it goes:

I’d always been a huge science fiction/fantasy fan, but hadn’t read any of Pratchett’s works until I was in my senior year at EIU.  I was taking a YA lit class, and my professor, an amazing and very talented woman, was having us choose a title from a set of books she had pre-selected for us to write a critique of.  One of the books she had chosen was Terry Pratchett’s Nation, specifically in the hope that I would pick it.  After class had ended I went back to my dorm and began to read…and read.

Terry Pratchett’s writing was so beautiful, filled to bursting with sly wit and honest humor, gently chiding us for our rationalizations and prejudices, while never missing the opportunity to bask in our ability to do good.  Through two protagonists who couldn’t have been more different, Mau, a survivors of a tribe that had been almost whipped out by a tsunami, and Daphne, a British aristocrat, Pratchett explored the role of faith in a disaster, how far we should go to preserve tradition, and the possibility of seeing ourselves in others, not matter how different we are.  I had never read a passage as startling insightful as when Mau, literally face-to-face with the God of death, says that “Imo made us smart enough to realize he didn’t exist”.  As soon as I was done with Nation, I moved onto his Discworld series and as I type this have a collection of his works sitting on my shelf, all well-worn from my reading them.

Pratchett was an amazing man: an author with an amazing number of works to his name, publishing even as he battled with Alzheimer’s (something he referred to as an “embuggerance”), who, when he found out he had been knighted, made a sword from thunderbolt iron (metal derived from a meteorite).  He was a trustee of the Orangutan Foundation, and a fan of Half-life 2 and Thief, and lobbied for the right to die (saying that he planned on “taking the disease with me”).  I will miss Terry Pratchett, miss his humor and his ability to, with a word, reveal a host of truths about humanity.  I will miss his books and finding out what happens to Carrot and Angua, and will treasure The Long Utopia, the latest and last installment to the Long Earth series and Pratchett’s last work.

Pratchett once wrote a dialogue between death and his daughter (best not to ask), in which death said that little lies like the tooth fairy and Hogfather (Discworld’s version of Santa Claus), prepared people to believe in bigger lies like justice, duty, and mercy, to which his daughter that they’re not the same.  Death responds that if you take the universe and ground it down, you would not find “one atom of justice, one molecule of mercy” but that people “act like there is some sort of rightness in the universe”.  His daughter replies that “people have to believe, or what’s the point” to which death responds with three words, three words that for me, sum up what made Pratchett so great.  Death says “my point exactly”.

Fare thee well Mr. Pratchett and know that as long as you are read, you will live on and sit beside us as we laugh and scratch out heads, while trying to figure out just what the heck Nobby Nobbs is.

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This entry was posted on March 13, 2015 by in Uncategorized.
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