A tribute to Terry Pratchett
I have always believed that the books we read, even frivolous stories, affect our thinking even though sometimes in almost imperceptible ways. I recall as a young girl visiting book shops with my parents, always seeing your Discworld novels on the shelves with their intriguing covers and wild sounding stories and I had never known anyone who had read them. And then, I must have been only 13 or so, my dad encouraged me to try it (although he never had, and never did read the books) and I bought the first two with my meagre pocket money. I was captivated and soon bought all the others that you had written by then (It took me up to about Masquerade, I think, to catch up) and devoured them. Every cent I could muster went to building up my collection, catching up and I immersed myself in this world. Since, I have waited every year with eager anticipation for the next one to come out and bought it the moment the softcover edition was available in stores. Many of them (like Small Gods and Hogfather) I have reread more times than I can count. The way you tell stories has affected my sense of humour and the way I write and helped build my vivid imagination (and my intelligence I have no doubt!). Your satirical pictures of reality (without being glum about it) has affected my view of the world and helped to make me aware of it in ways similar to my University education… but you did it with amazing stories, a world and characters immersive and enchanting – every set of characters we get to know better every time you tell us their stories anew with such wisdom and compassion and delightful humour. I remember with such fondness times when I’ve burst out laughing out loud, something books don’t easily do for me! Even sometimes at the most inappropriate moment (sitting on the train to work surrounded my a press of stoic sheeple (you’ll understand I mean, sheep-people…).
It was with tremendous sadness that I heard of your illness, and I marvelled at your courage and your perseverance. I didn’t expect anything less from the mind that brought us all of the Discworld, but still… And I was even more astounded to see that you still continued to write and the last few, Unseen Academicals and Wintersmith, were as delightful as always. I couldn’t see from your writing that you were experiencing any challenges whatsoever. And that comforted me.
And then, a week ago, I read I Shall Wear Midnight, and for the first time I could see that something was different. In the way you phrased certain things, some of the funny moments. I truly realized then how big a part of my thinking and imaginative world you have been for the past 17 years. It feels like I have been hearing your voice telling me stories in the most wondrous way and this time I could see for the first time ever that you are ill. It didn’t detract from the experience, but I could sense something was not quite as it has been for most of my life. And then, you turn that into one of the most touching and precious Discworld stories I can recall, something that speaks to my soul,and my romantic and writer’s heart more than any that have gone before and for the first time, a Discworld book surprised me with tears. I laughed, but the tears at the end were more precious. You do not know me, but I’m sure many will share with me the feeling that we have walked with you this long road and your legacy has enriched us beyond measure!
Sir, I salute you… There are many authors I admire, but I can number on one hand those that have changed my world and my being. You are one of them.
Update, 22 August 2013 @ 21:37 – I read I Shall Wear Midnight again this week and I was blown away again! So much wisdom hidden in the story and the laughter. Characters we know so intimately because each displays a part of ourselves (which we either embrace or suppress). And tonight again, as I lay on my bed and finished the last 30 pages, I wept so that the tears ran into my ears. It moved me more than I have words to say. I wish sometimes that the people we love could take the time to read the stories that change us, and that they could experience the reading of it the way that we do.