"I'm open to joy. But I'm also more cynical"
September 3, 2010 11:41 AM   Subscribe

Before anybody gets a heart attack, he aten't dead. The Guardian has a new interview with Terry Pratchett, talking about his writing and state of health.

For those who might be interested in pTerry's Dimbleby Lecture on Alzheimer's and assisted suicide from last year, it's available in six parts on Youtube: 1 2 3 4 5 6. Partial transcripts are here and here. Haven't been able to find a full one.

His latest book is I Shall Wear Midnight, the conclusion to the Tiffany Aching series. Available now in the UK, a few weeks later in the US. He is currently working on Snuff, a Vimes book, presumably to be followed by Raising Taxes, a third entry in the Moist von Lipwig series.

For fans who might not be aware, the L-Space Web now has an attached Wiki. One especially useful section is the Annotations, which helps bridge the gap between the Annotated Pratchett File's infrequent updates.
posted by kmz (46 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
"Aten't" isn't a word. The correct term is "ain't." /grammar southerner
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:44 AM on September 3, 2010


"Aten't" isn't a word.

It's a Discword.
posted by DU at 11:45 AM on September 3, 2010 [33 favorites]


/grammar southerner

I read that as "oil + water"
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 11:49 AM on September 3, 2010 [6 favorites]


Have any less-young adults read the Tiffany Aching books? Are they worthwhile? The "young adult" description put me off the first one and I haven't since caught up. I'm a big fan of all of the Discworld books I have read.
posted by Edwahd at 11:50 AM on September 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


The Tiffany Aching books are WELL Worth your time. They are very adult young adult books.
posted by strixus at 11:54 AM on September 3, 2010 [6 favorites]


I have a very difficult time mentally synthesizing the goofy, lighthearted books and the deeply serious, contemplative author. I love the idea of him more than I love his writing, and that's a hell of a thing.
posted by Stagger Lee at 11:59 AM on September 3, 2010


Thanks for this. Fun framing, too. :)
posted by zarq at 12:01 PM on September 3, 2010


Yes, the Tiffany Aching books are good. All of his YA books are, actually.

And thank you, OP, for the opening sentence.
posted by Ruki at 12:04 PM on September 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Seconding strixus on that. Tiffany and the Wee Free Men are some of the best parts of the Discworld universe, in my opinion, and are definitely in the 'for all ages' category.
posted by AdamCSnider at 12:10 PM on September 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


OMG, a new Vimes book?!? Thank you so much for this post!
posted by lagreen at 12:11 PM on September 3, 2010


Having now read the initial interview...

Having lived with a parent growing up who gradually had his mobility, physical coordination and eventually some of his mental faculties taken away from him by an awful disease, I feel quite terrible about what Mr. Pratchett is going through.

But as sad as I am that he's enduring this, and that he (eventually) won't be with us anymore, I want to cheer him for being so public about the effects of his illness and his feelings about having the right to choose when to leave this world. Good for him for doing this. More people should understand that such a choice is about dignity, self-determination and wanting not to be a burden to others.
posted by zarq at 12:13 PM on September 3, 2010


.
posted by blue_beetle at 12:18 PM on September 3, 2010


he aten't dead

Man it's gonna be so weird when he ate.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 12:20 PM on September 3, 2010


Terry Pratchett has brought me much joy. And another Vimes book? Awesome.
posted by maxwelton at 12:21 PM on September 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


OMG, a new Vimes book?!? Thank you so much for this post!

Yes! The Vimes/Guards books are my favorites.
posted by Fleebnork at 12:21 PM on September 3, 2010


It's a Discword.

Oh yeah, Granny. *hangs head in shame*
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:22 PM on September 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


The Tiffany Aching books are his best, even better than the Vimes stuff. I'm working on a design for tattoo of a Pictsie. I seriously have no idea why they are marketed as YA when most of his other Discworld books aren't (despite most public libraries putting all of them in YA because of the usual librarian disdain for fantasy and SF).

Just because Tiffany is a child doesn't mean she is childish. She has First Sight and Second Thoughts, after all.
posted by QIbHom at 12:32 PM on September 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


As others have already said, the YA books are definitely worthwhile. My favorite is probably The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents, which is one of my favorite in all of Discworld and thus near the top of my personal literary canon.

I have a very difficult time mentally synthesizing the goofy, lighthearted books and the deeply serious, contemplative author.

How much Pratchett have you read? Sure, the Discworld books are occasionally goofy and lighthearted, but beyond the first few books they are also deep and contemplative. Even the latter Rincewind books (always the more frivolous of the subseries) are more contemplative than mere pastiches of genre. If you aren't moved to tears by certain sections of Night Watch or Reaper Man or Carpe Jugulum or god, almost any of them past the first few Rincewind books, then well... I guess Discworld isn't for you then. But if The Colour of Magic and The Light Fanastic are the only ones you've read, please give the more recent ones a try. Start with say, Guards! Guards!.
posted by kmz at 12:58 PM on September 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


Another Vimes book is fantastic! I'm particularly excited about the new Moist von Lipwig book. I mean, sure the second one wasn't as good, or whatever, but I wore out my first copy of Going Postal. It was probably my favorite of the whole discworld series.
posted by Carillon at 1:08 PM on September 3, 2010


The Tiffany Aching books are definitely worth a read!
I'm very happy that he's working on a Vimes-book before another Moist von Lipwig one, definitely looking forward to Snuff!

I just read this recent article where Ian Stewart describes what attracts him in Terry Pratchett's writing (and what made him go to the very recent Discworld Convention in Birmingham).
posted by Ms. Next at 1:09 PM on September 3, 2010


That lecture is excellent. Tony Robinson does a great job as a "Stunt Pratchett." Thanks for posting.
posted by joedan at 1:12 PM on September 3, 2010


Very happy to hear about a new Vimes book. Some of his recent stuff seems like it gets resolved with a bit of Deus Ex Machina, but I love it nevertheless.
posted by idb at 1:24 PM on September 3, 2010


I agree on the general awesomeness of the Tiffany books - there's a playfulness and joy to them that's less in evidence in the mainstream DW books these days.
posted by Sparx at 1:45 PM on September 3, 2010


What I like about the Tiffany books is that she's drawn as a realistic adolescent; she knows things adults like to pretend "kids" have no idea about, but is still open to new ideas and feelings.
posted by maxwelton at 2:28 PM on September 3, 2010


Start with say, Guards! Guards!.

Or Going Postal---that's the one I recommend folks start with.
posted by leahwrenn at 3:21 PM on September 3, 2010


Lego Discworld. Lego Discworld characters.

Not mine. Not self-promotionalitory.
posted by Fleebnork at 3:36 PM on September 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


Although I can't vouch for the accuracy of the first model. Everyone knows it's turtles all the way down.
posted by Fleebnork at 3:38 PM on September 3, 2010


My car's CD player has been filled with nothing but Pratchett novels lately, in particular the first two Tiffany Aching books-- "Wee Free Men" and "A Hat Full of Sky." They are wonderful, and don't let the young adult label fool you. Both books (in addition to being rollicking tales) are extended meditations on responsibility, and the gift/curse of being able to make hard decisions when no one else can or will, and when one may not want to. The writing about what constitutes witchcraft and being a witch is worth mulling over. And the fighting, swearing, boozing pictsies, the Nac Mac Feagle (aka wee free men, aka person or persons unknown), are a delight. If you've considered reading this series but are ashamed to be seen with a YA book in hand...do it. For Sir Terry.
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:11 PM on September 3, 2010


Pterry's YA and children's books are just as good as his books ostensibly for adults. And, perhaps, more adult (by which I mean "grown up" - I've mentioned before that if you put the words "adult" and "mature" into Google you get a lot of hits that aren't really either). It's all good, really.

That said, the last two pages of Small Gods had me in tears. Not completely sure why, but I think if I read them again to check, I'd have to explain to my wife why I'm crying.
posted by Grangousier at 4:20 PM on September 3, 2010


I really didn't like Small Gods the first time I read it, but I really glad I read it again (and a time or two beyond that).
posted by maxwelton at 4:55 PM on September 3, 2010


I really didn't like Small Gods the first time I read it, but I really glad I read it again (and a time or two beyond that).

Small Gods was the very first Pratchett book I ever read. This exchange made me a lifelong fan of his work:
"Slave is an Ephebian word. In Om we have no word for slave," said Vorbis.

"So I understand," said the Tyrant. "I imagine that fish have no word for water."
posted by zarq at 5:05 PM on September 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


I also like his take on Magic Armor: (Different book.)
Many an ancient lord's last words had been, "You can't kill me because I've got magic aaargh!"

posted by zarq at 5:08 PM on September 3, 2010



That said, the last two pages of Small Gods had me in tears. Not completely sure why, but I think if I read them again to check, I'd have to explain to my wife why I'm crying.

Small Gods is the book I gave my most beloved and devout relatives when I needed to open the discussion on why I was leaving the Church. The ending is something that illustrates what a peculiarly human thing faith is, and how it can elevate people's character into the realm of the divine.

In terms of mainstream writers who have an uncanny ability to illuminate the human condition almost as a side effect while they're entertaining you, Pterry's the model to follow.
posted by sobell at 5:16 PM on September 3, 2010 [4 favorites]


Small Gods is the book I gave my most beloved and devout relatives when I needed to open the discussion on why I was leaving the Church.

The next time I get into one of these discussions about atheism with a well-meaning relative, I'm going to hand her a copy of Carpe Jugulum with a bookmark in it. Granny Weatherwax arguing with poor Pastor Oats -- it's the conversation that for years I didn't dare have with myself, in re: the Episcopal Church, and I knew that immediately when I read it.

Unseen Academicals was light and silly, but the sad, grim, and inexplicably adorable Mr. Nutt showed that Pratchett hadn't lost his touch. I'm glad he's going to write another Vimes book, although Vimes is a plaster saint compared to the cops we have stateside. (In an interview Pratchett did, he mentioned something that his fans who were policemen told him, and I thought: hold on. There are cops that read Discworld?) I'm also happy to hear of another Moist von Lipwig novel, too, because there's a character who's due to take a heel turn.
posted by Countess Elena at 6:00 PM on September 3, 2010


Have any less-young adults read the Tiffany Aching books? Are they worthwhile? The "young adult" description put me off the first one and I haven't since caught up. I'm a big fan of all of the Discworld books I have read.

nthing the 'yes'. As far as I can tell the only difference between the Aching books and the regular ones is that regular discworld books don't have chapters. The tone, language and style is identical.
posted by Sebmojo at 6:45 PM on September 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's amazing how many people have been influenced (dare I say transformed?) by Small Gods. That was the book the turned me into a Pratchett fan as well, and definitely made me more introspective about myself and life in general.

Here's hoping Pterry stays mentally alert and "aten't dead" for a long long time to come.
posted by Alnedra at 7:52 PM on September 3, 2010


Very happy that Tiffany Aching is getting so much love. They're my favorites, even though with Pratchett it's hard to pick a favorite strand out of the whole tapestry.

Let's hear it for Headology.
posted by custardfairy at 8:23 PM on September 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


After he finished giving a wonderful talk in Dublin, Mr Pratchett came to my 18th birthday party, which was having a little bit of trouble getting going. He opened a discreet, magical briefcase to reveal fine spirits secreted within it. His very own Luggage! He is a nice guy.
posted by meehawl at 8:52 PM on September 3, 2010


oooh, new book out! and another watch novel on the way, awesome

If you aren't moved to tears by certain sections of Night Watch
yea, night watch is one of my favourites. Both my boyfriend and my mom are reading their way through the series, and I'm impatient for them to get to it so I can talk about it. Come to think of it. I should get my brother to read it, he's a cop, I'd be interested to hear what he thinks of Vimes.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 1:03 AM on September 4, 2010


I've read Night Watch at least ten times. It's up there with Reaper Man, Hogfather, Witches Abroad, Soul Music and Thief of Time.
posted by maxwelton at 1:11 AM on September 4, 2010


After he finished giving a wonderful talk in Dublin, Mr Pratchett came to my 18th birthday party, which was having a little bit of trouble getting going. He opened a discreet, magical briefcase to reveal fine spirits secreted within it.

I am soooo jealous of this.

(also, not that this is really relevant, but I am totally dressing up as Susan Sto Helit for halloween this year)
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 2:38 AM on September 4, 2010


The first one I read was Feet of Clay. One of his darker books (it is a murder mystery, after all), but the main theme is slavery, on several levels.

Dorfl broke my heart, then made me cry laughing at the image of the gods throwing lightening at an agnostic golem. But, as others have said, yes, you end up laughing and giggling, but you also end up thinking about many Important Issues.

I avoided P'terry for years, because he was popular, therefore, he must suck. I was so, so wrong, and I mourn the years lost not lusting after Susan Death, trying to picture Corporal Nobbs, learning headology and contemplating Death's plumbing.
posted by QIbHom at 6:06 AM on September 4, 2010


Nthing the love for the Tiffany Aching books, and I thing for me part of it is that she's clever without being insufferable about it, the way other protagonists of YA novels can be.

In an interview I did with him back in March 2003, here's what he said then about how he writes them:
Sequential Tart: What's the difference in mindset that you have when writing a "regular" novel and a young adult or children's novel?

TP: The simple answer is that for the younger books I probably take more care over vocabulary (which is not the same as making it simpler, but has more to do with clarity) and with references. We all bring stuff to a novel when we read it; children bring different stuff, and less of it. The complex answer is that there is a lot more to it than that, and although I do it I don't know what it is. I find myself writing in a different tone of voice.
When I saw him at the Monstrous Regiment book signing later that year and I reminded him of the interview, he replied that it was the best "interview by email" he'd done to that point. *squee*
posted by TrishaLynn at 7:00 AM on September 4, 2010


After reading the Guardian interview: And yes, Terry Pratchett did give me suggestions on how to conduct the interview due to him having been a journalist and yes, if Terry Pratchett gives you advice on how you how you should interview him by email, you bloody well do what he says.
posted by TrishaLynn at 7:09 AM on September 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


And here I was, by chance, just having finished Wee Free Men and starting A Hat Full of Sky last night. All my books still being in boxes, I was amazed I found Hat.
posted by Michael Roberts at 11:12 AM on September 4, 2010


I got to interview him when I was editing a UK knitting magazine (did you know he can spin? And knit, too, though not as well?). It ranks right up there with my all-time coolest experiences. Anyway: during the interview, I brought up the fact that I'd been recommending the Tiffany Aching books to all my friends with young girls suffering from Twilight-mania. I am jumping up and down waiting for this new one!
posted by bitter-girl.com at 3:20 PM on September 4, 2010


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