“I have read all your books” – A farewell to PTerry

I met Sir PTerry the same year I met my future husband. It was 1985 and I was 18 years old. I have, it seems, spent my entire adult life with him. Which may explain why I am very thankful that I have today off, and am sitting in a darkened room and erratically weeping-while-laughing.

I’m not sure I can do justice to the man – there are people all over the world who write much more betterer than me, and who cared just as passionately about him. You can (and should) read all of these things on the interwebs. You also can (and should) read all of his books. All I can do is say, thank you – you made me laugh, and cry, and fall in love, and feel brave, and learn things, and re-evaluate the way I thought about things, and champion books that (at least in those early days) no-one else thought were worth a damn. I almost preferred it that way – I think I didn’t want to have to share, and it felt so very special when I met those few others who felt the same.

When you came to Christchurch and I got to ACTUALLY meet you, you were every bit as scary and amazing and inspiring as I’d hoped you would be.

I fell in love with Vimes. I wanted to be like Granny Weatherwax (but always knew I was probably a lot more like Agnes Nitt). I adore the Patrician (One Man One Vote). We temporarily borrowed a cat called Greebo. I will ALWAYS want to own a dragon called Errol.

I have read all of your books; even the slightly less-outstanding very early ones (and those ones by you and Mr Baxter that I didn’t like so much but read anyway, because YOU’d written them). I’ve read them on planes and trains and boats, and in the garden and the lounge and in bed and at work. I’ve read them out loud to my family, and to my friends, and occasionally to random strangers.

I think my life would have been an emptier, colder place without you, Terry Pratchett. I probably wouldn’t have been a librarian, and I certainly wouldn’t have been a writer of small silly things.
You have made me a better person, and I can’t believe I have to carry on in a universe where you no longer are.
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Haere ra Terry Pratchett

“I intend, before the endgame looms, to die sitting in a chair in my own garden with a glass of brandy in my hand and Thomas Tallis on the iPod, the latter because Thomas’s music could lift even an atheist a little bit closer to Heaven.
Oh, and since this is England, I had better add, ‘If wet, in the library.’

I woke up this morning and read Terry Pratchett had died.
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I searched the catalogue, and found 189 things with him listed as author (he wrote more than 70 novels). And had a laugh at one of his famed creations – The Librarian, a wizard turned orang-utang “the only librarian who can rip off your arm with his leg.”

Haere ra Terry Pratchett, a great and magical writer, a great and magical human being.

It’s useful to go out of this world and see it from the perspective of another one.

Samuel Vimes, you’re my hero!

CoverI’ve never been the sort of person to put up movie star posters in my room, or sigh over rock bands.  What I DO have, though is an enduring love of some book characters.  I know, it doesn’t get much more nerdy-librarian than that.  Even worse, my current infatuation (and an enduring one, I must confess) is for a cynical, middle-aged, angrily sober ex-alcoholic career policeman, who lives in a city that he loves to hate, in a world that doesn’t exist.

I first met His Grace, His Excellency, the Duke of Ankh, Commander Sir Samuel Vimes (Blackboard Monitor) in 1989 in Guards! Guards! (a book that continues to be my favourite out of all Terry Pratchett’s novels).  At the time, he was a mere Captain of the City Watch, and I a recently-married student.  We have grown up together, Vimes and I, although I have not attained the heady heights of nobility and career stardom that he has.  Like millions of fans worldwide I am worried that Snuff, the latest title by Pratchett, may also be his last, and I am both pleased and saddened that of all the characters and stories he could have chosen, it’s Vimes who is the hero of Snuff.

Cover Pratchett’s books, on the surface, are all about farting dragons and innuendo-ridden witches, very tall dwarves and orangutan librarians, and as such are frequently dismissed as being for kids or people who like to dress up in old curtains and pretend they are wizards.

But they are also full of genuinely historical crunchy bits, retellings of classic tales, myth and legend, and characters that are so real you feel you already know them.  Their foibles are our foibles, their humanity just like ours (even when they are not, strictly speaking, human), and their dreams and aspirations as valid as ours.  All Sam Vimes wants to do at the end of the day is be the best copper he can be, keep his city and home safe for his wife and son, and make it home by 6pm each night so he can read Young Sam his favourite book, Where’s My Cow?

Snuff is a delight, a fabulously funny, heart-warming tale of mystery and murder on a policeman’s holiday, that is also about justice and slavery, nobility and prejudice and standing up for what you know to be right.  It is one of the very best books I have read recently, and has only cemented my ongoing love for Vimes, Duke of Ankh, Blackboard Monitor, and policeman extraordinaire.

Now make me feel better by confessing YOUR literary crushes …