Tag Archives: Terry Pratchett

“The Ocean at the End of the Lane” by Neil by Gaiman

A friend handed me this book because “it’s as good as Terry Pratchett”! OK… but I’m ambivalent about Pratchett. See my eulogy, dated March 19, 2015. So where does this Gaiman novel rate on the Pratchett scale?

I would give if about at 90. Not as good as my absolute Pratchett favorites, but very good.

The plot (told entirely as a flashback): A child’s family life is disrupted by the suicide of a boarder. Strange events follow hard on – money keeps turning up – a lottery win, a found coin. Sounds good, but goes all wrong.

The child meets neighbors and they team up to wage a supernatural battle against the forces of disorder. It all makes sense when told from the eyes of the child.

I’ll take more of Gaiman with me to the beach. Perfect reading for a rainy day!

“The Shepard’s Crown” by Terry Pratchett

This posthumous book is a total treat. It is subtitled “A Tiffany Aching Adventure”. We first met young Tiffany in “The Wee Free Men”, one of Pratchett’s funniest books. The five Tiffany Aching books are part of the Discworld series. Some people consider Discworld to be right up there with Narnia and Middle Earth.

Tiffany Aching is a witch in training. Her mentors and fellow witches are a typical Pratchett crowd of eccentrics. As usual, Tiffany faces off with the forces of evil (in this case, fairies) to save her rural community. It’s the details that make this book amusing.

If you want to read for fun, grab “The Wee Free Men” (the first Tiffany Aching Adventure) and get to know Tiffany and company. You will also meet the Nac Mac Feegles, a gang of riotous but well intentioned pixies who guard Tiffany, whether she wants them to or not.

Happy reading!

Terry Pratchett (1948 – 2015) Rest in Peace

I just checked my shelves to see how extensively Terry Pratchett was represented. I found six hard covered books and sixteen paperbacks. Two of my favorites are missing. They are The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents (which might have been my very first Terry Pratchett book) and The Wee Free Men; loaned out, no doubt, to family and friends who also love Pratchett’s zany humor.

One Pratchett character who made his way into our ongoing family chit chat was CMOT Dibbler. Yes, Cut-me-own-throat Dibbler, seller of highly suspicious meat patties. When one of us gets something “odd” in a restaurant, CMOT is mentioned.

Considering our employment at a local college, references to the irresistibly whacky Unseen University are inevitable.

It’s sad that Pratchett died at the relatively young age of 66, but beyond sad that he died of Alzheimer’s disease. Its hard to say if it was better or worse that he suffered from a form of the disease that was diagnosed while he was still entirely able to understand his grim prognosis. Pratchett looked death in the eye for years, and did so with amazing composure and strength.

Pratchett moved the discussion of death with dignity and assisted suicide into new and difficult territory. Most “aid in dying” laws, like the law in the state of Oregon, are designed in support of people with relatively short expected survival horizons, like six months. I don’t think any physician will make predictions about Alzheimer’s, as patients may live many years with the disease. And if an assisted suicide decision must be made by a person “of sound mind”, at what stage does a sufferer of Alzheimer’s cease to qualify?

I ponder these questions with particular care, because my mother died of Alzheimer’s in 1983, the same year Pratchett wrote his first Discworld novel. My mother would have loved Pratchett’s books! The Wee Free Men would have delighted her! She actively encouraged us to play “make believe”. I think maybe she believed in fairies. She might have liked the term Pratchett coined to describe his Alzheimer’s diagnosis – he called it an “embuggerance”. Pure Pratchett – if there isn’t a word for something, make one up!

So rest in peace, Sir Terry Pratchett! Thanks for all the laughter.

My Kindle Died

My Kindle died! Maybe I killed it. I took it almost everywhere, and that included camping on Memorial Day weekend. A thundershower was closing in and we tossed everything under a convenient canopy before taking shelter in my brother-in-law’s Jeep.

My Kindle did NOT get wet! Damp, perhaps… But more likely it got torqued. It was in a bag full of miscellaneous food items… Do not pack your Kindle with canned goods. Half the screen was frozen with black streaks. Turning it off and back on and other interventions accomplished no improvement.

I shouldn’t complain. My Kindle was showing wear. I bought it three years ago, and found it wonderful for travel. Yes, I need six books for a week at the beach. Maybe more. I also appreciated the instant gratification of shopping in the Kindle store and the convenience of not having to remember to drive to a library. (I patronize several, none actually in my daily orbit.)

I was just plain shocked to be interrupted mid-book. For two or three days I compensated by writing in my journal. It’s not as if my house is short of books, but many fall into some inconvenient category –

  • already been read
  • reflecting someone else’s interests
  • I’m supposed to be interested but I’m not
  • purchased by mistake
  • given by someone with good intentions…

You know what I mean. Finally I yanked down a copy of Terry Pratchett’s Wintersmith. Great for bedtime or the odd moment when eating lunch. Pratchett’s wacky humor stands up pretty well. I wish I had a copy of The Wee Free Men.

After a week or so, I snapped out of my funk and ordered a new Kindle, a Paperwhite, the kind that lights up. I also found a stack of relatively new, unread books, and settled down with some good journalistic non-fiction. Stay tuned for a blog entry shortly. And a connoisseur’s evaluation of the Kindle Paperwhite!