Terry Pratchett isn’t Jolly

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A friend sent me this great article that Neil Gaiman wrote for The Guardian. He discusses the common misconception that it’s simply the humour that drives Terry Pratchett’s writing when it’s really much more.

Still, by the top of the hour it was all over. We went back to our hotel, and this time we took a taxi. Terry was silently furious: with himself, mostly, I suspect, and with the world that had not told him that the distance from the bookshop to the radio station was much further than it had looked on our itinerary. He sat in the back of the cab beside me white with anger, a non-directional ball of fury. I said something, hoping to placate him. Perhaps I said that, ah well, it had all worked out in the end, and it hadn’t been the end of the world, and suggested it was time to not be angry any more.

Terry looked at me. He said: “Do not underestimate this anger. This anger was the engine that powered Good Omens.” I thought of the driven way that Terry wrote, and of the way that he drove the rest of us with him, and I knew that he was right.

It’s a great peek into the relationship of two of the world’s most beloved authors, an examination of what fuels Pratchett’s fiction, as well as a sort of living obituary from one friend to another as his time sadly draws nearer and nearer to the end.

There is a fury to Terry Pratchett’s writing: it’s the fury that was the engine that powered Discworld. It’s also the anger at the headmaster who would decide that six-year-old Terry Pratchett would never be smart enough for the 11-plus; anger at pompous critics, and at those who think serious is the opposite of funny; anger at his early American publishers who could not bring his books out successfully.

Neil Gaiman: ‘Terry Pratchett isn’t jolly. He’s angry’

It turns out this is the forward to Pratchett’s next book, A Slip of the Keyboard, which is a collection of his non-fiction writing. This is the first I’ve heard of it, but I’m now very excited to read it.

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