Econstudentlog

Going Postal

…by Terry Pratchett is one of the books I’m currently reading.

You might not know this, but before J.K. Rowling entered the scene, Pratchett was for a long time one of the British authors of the day – he was the UK’s best selling author of the 90′es. More than 50 million books sold worldwide: There was – and is – a reason. Today he has Alzheimer’s, and he is unlikely to publish much more than he already has. If you don’t know Pratchett’s Discworld series, follow this link, then, if you think you might be the least bit interested, hurry on to amazon or some other online book store and place your order. It doesn’t much matter where you start; some characters are present in more books than one, but each book can easily be read individually without knowing much about the Discworld Universe in general and anyway wikipedia and/or other websites devoted to this purpose can help you out with the context.

In my previous post, I stated that Pratchett’s books were light reading. They are, and they are also very, very funny. If you don’t have to stop at least a dozen times during this book, because you are laughing out loud, then there’s something wrong with you. It’s a book about an immensely likeable fraud, thief, liar and con artist, who goes by the name of Moist von Lipwig (at least now he does) and who is in the beginning of the book presented with the simple choice: Certain death by execution or the job as head of the local Post Office. The local town, Ankh-Morpork, has a Assassins’ Guild, and in the book you encounter the word Vonallesvolkommenunverstandlichdasdaskeit, among others. It’s a crazy book, but and it’s great.

I am loath to pick out excerpts from this book, because no excerpt would do it justice, but I guess a few samples are in order. Here’s some of the stuff you’ll encounter:

Moist sighed. ‘Do you really think all this deters crime, Mr Trooper?’ he said.
‘Well, in the generality of things I’d say it’s hard to tell, given that it’s hard to find evidence of crimes not committed,’ said the hangman, giving the trapdoor a final rattle. ‘But in the specificality, sir, I’d say it’s very efficacious.
‘Meaning what?’ said Moist.
‘Meaning I’ve never seen someone up here more’n once, sir. Shall we go?’
There was a stir when they climbed up into the chilly morning air, followed by a few boos and even some applause. People were strange like that. Steal five dollars and you were a petty thief. Steal thousands of dollars and you were either a government or a hero.

That’s why it [magic] was left to wizards, who knew how to handle it safely. Not doing any magic at all was the chief task of wizards – not ‘not doing magic’ because they couldn’t do magic, but not doing magic when they could do and did not. Any ignorant fool can fail to turn someone else into a frog. You have to be clever to refrain from doing it when you know how easy it is.

He [Moist] liked Teemer and Spools. He liked the kind of business where you could actually speak to the man whose name was over the door; it meant it probably wasn’t run by crooks. And he liked the big, solid, unflappable workmen, recognizing in them all the things he knew he lacked, like steadfastness, solidarity and honesty. You couldn’t lie to a lathe or fool a hammer. They were good people, and quite unlike him …
One way in which they were quite unlike him was that none of them, right now, probably had wads of stolen paper stuffed into their jacket.
He really shouldn’t have done it, he really shouldn’t. It was just that Mr Spools was a kind and enthusiastic man and the desk had been covered with examples of his wonderful work, and when the perforation press was being made people had been bustling around and not really paying Moist much attention and he’d … tidied up. He couldn’t help himself. He was a crook. What did Vetinari expect?

She froze, staring over his shoulder. He saw her right hand scrabble frantically among the cutlery and grab a knife.
‘That bastard has just walked into the place!’, she hissed. ‘Reacher Gilt! I’ll just kill him and join you for the pudding…’
‘You can’t do that!’ hissed Moist.
‘Oh, why not?’
‘You’re using the wrong knife! That’s for the fish! You’ll get into trouble!’

No, it’s not Shakespeare. But it is highly recommended if you like some really funny and fast-paced fantasy.

September 29, 2009 Posted by | books, Terry Pratchett | Leave a comment

   

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