Memories of pTerry
I wrote this elsewhere on 12 March, the day Terry Pratchett died. A cluster of hasty thoughts, which were going to force their way out in some format. I chose quick words, instead of tears.
I first read Good Omens on a sunny early autumn day during the last couple of years of school – I forget which, exactly. The grass was soft and the sun was still warm and school was quite interesting and fun, and the book was about to open a whole new direction for me. It wasn’t just about deep themes or interesting fantastic plots, but it was also about how to use language cleverly – how it could be funny, poignant, epic, scary and touching all in one work.
I went on to read everything by Neil Gaiman, and pretty much everything by Terry, and arrived at me. I thought Terry was at his strongest when he went for the more serious books, even if they were still amusing, and the humour to me was always secondary to his handling of the themes of each book.
I loved his female protagonists: Susan, of course, and Tiffany, and also Polly. Monstrous Regiment is one of my favourites, even if it’s not usually counted among his best.
It’s hitting me pretty hard, although of course I knew – we all knew – that it was coming. I raged when I heard about his diagnosis, it was not, in any way, fair. But life isn’t. And the only way to get through life as far as you can, I think, is to treat it like one of Terry’s books: that even when it is scary, or impossible, or painful or, indeed, epic, as it can be, the funny bits are still there. Somewhere.
I’d have a whisky if I wasn’t driving tonight, but as it is, it’ll have to wait.
I see his final Discworld novel is going to be of Tiffany. I am wary of touching it, because, understandably, his quality of writing seemed to suffer a little in the last few years. But I most likely will read it, because of the significance the Tiffany books have for me.