Some books are like winter coats. They languish out of sight in trunks and closets like reproaches, as we lope and bay in the fertile seasons. And then, by climate or whimsy, out they come, a bit bent or rickety, a bit threadbare, a bit last-year’s-model, bearing memories.
I’ve only read a couple of books by Terry Pratchett, whose Discworld novels are not what you think. They are not science fiction, they are not fantasy, they are not shallow, and they are not weighty. What they are is gorgeous high comedy, bubbling with wit and keen fancy, jubilantly drawn in a setting that allows just about anything to happen.
Per Pratchett’s site:
… well, it’s like this. If you started watching Star Trek halfway through the series you probably wondered why one guy had pointy ears. But since you liked what you saw, you probably let the question ride for now and just got on with enjoying the show.
Discworld is like that.
Anyway, once again Pratchett’s The Truth has come stumping out of its dusty lair, and once again I’m reading it with joy. This time through – my fourth? fifth? – the binding is letting go. Soon it will be time to move on to another one.
The Truth concerns an ethical journalist – remember, we’re talking a kind of fantasy here – in the vast strange city of Ankh-Morpork. Hilarity ensues, some of it pointed. Toward the end, where I am now, one of the denizens meets a timely end, and since he meets it without his potato (it’s a long story), he has a difficult interview with Death:
“Is this the bit where my whole life passes in front of my eyes?” he said.
NO, THAT WAS THE BIT JUST NOW.
THE BIT, said Death, BETWEEN YOUR BEING BORN AND YOUR DYING. NO, THIS … THIS IS YOUR WHOLE LIFE AS IT PASSED BEFORE OTHER PEOPLE’S EYES …