I Shall Wear Midnight

The arrival of a new Pratchett is always a big deal here in our tiny refuge within the hellish suburbian post-industrial wastelands that they call South-East Essex. It pretty much means that I will not be available for any chores within the house, including picking up the phone, answer emails or at all rise from the sofa. After me finishing The Book, it’s the best girlfriend’s ever turn to take over the tome and to indulge in a brief spell of escapism full of politically incorrect witches, moronic right wing types, ghosts with OCD and anarchic gnomes. So this time it was the teenage witch Tiffany to take over the helm in the protagonist’s chair and as before she seems to bring out Pratchett’s more introspective side. Why this book is labelled ‘for young adults’ (like the previous Tiffany novels) is beyond me. First, you could very well argue that all of Pratchett’s books appeal to young adults (and middle aged adults and older adults and decrepit old fogies like myself). Second, Tiffany always seems to bring out Prattchett’s philosophical side, making the books arguably more attractive to an older audience. Third, the distiction is completely arbitrary.

Anyway, the book is (as usual) a cracker. It covers all the usual, recurring issues that Pratchett (understandably) has been grappling with repeatedly in his last novels: Hate, tolerance, feminism, death, pre- and postmarital sex are all covered with Pratchett’s usual deftness and it’s hard not to feel both elated and shed a tear at the end of the novel.

I remain convinced that if more people would read Pratchett (especially Teaparty conservatives), the world would surely a better place, but that remains a pipe dream as he is surely blacklisted for these guys, just like that dangerous indoctrinator J.K. Rowling.

Terry Pratchett’s ‘Nation’

I can’t remember the last time I cried while I was reading a book, but Terry Pratchett’s Nation certainly did produce a bit of a sniffle today. The first book by Pratchett not set on Discworld since, er, Good Omens, I think, is not only a philosophical masterpiece but also side-splittingly, laugh out loud funny. I think only Pratchett (and sometimes Dawkins) can get this combination right.

In ‘Nation‘ we witness the ancient struggle between belief and reality: If the gods (or god) exists, why is there so much  wrong with this world? Is the proof for supernatural belief a loads of of old twaddle? These age old questions are set on an idyllic island in an alternative reality Pacific Ocean that has just hit by an enormous tsunami, wiping out it’s population. Only a 13 year old inhabitant and an English girl (that was stranded with the schooner she was travelling on) are left on the tropical paradise that is slowly but surely filling up with refugees. In between making beer, defending the island from cannibals and negotiating with the British Crown these two have to come to terms (no, not with their sexuality. This is not Blue Lagoon) with their inner and cultural daemons. While I was looking forward to another Discworld and some Shenanigans of Vimes and his posse, this book is very welcome in a time when the secular western world is under attack from the Sarah Palins of our time.

‘Nation’ is tender, humane, a delight to read, very moving, and has maybe the best ending of all of Pratchett’s books.

I’ll now read it again.