Thursday, December 13, 2007

Pratchett's Embuggerance

Being allergic to almost all fantasy literature, I am no fan of Terry Pratchett's books (though, from what little I've read, he seems a great deal less intolerable than the likes of Pullman and Tolkien). The way he has broken the news of his Alzheimer's, though, seems altogether admirable. I particularly like his description of the terminally grim prognosis as an 'embuggerance'. This is a fine word, and a fine spirit is behind it.

25 comments:

  1. Pratchett made the mistake of plagiarising himself. His Tolkien parody became a Pratchett parody. A copy of a copy.

    (See also Neil Gaiman for this sort of thing).

    Not surprised that Pratchett has Alzheimer's. It explains a lot. Not an enviable condition but it goes some way to explain his novels.

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  2. Hear, hear Nige. I heartily concur with your view of Pullman and Tolkein too.

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  3. Pratchett isn't really a Fantasy writer, he's a comic writer who just happens to use the Fantasy genre, usually to make fun of it.

    i think you have to enjoy melee combat to really appreciate Fantasy literature.

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  4. Pratchett is a somewhat witty and good natured writer, but his Discworld genre is not engaging enough for me to want to spent too much time reading.

    However, I can recommend "Good Omens", an enjoyable end of the world romp, which he co-authored with Gaiman.

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  5. Pratchett is a somewhat witty and good natured writer, but his Discworld genre is not engaging enough for me to want to spent too much time reading.

    However, I can recommend "Good Omens", an enjoyable end of the world romp, which he co-authored with Gaiman.

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  6. Good Omens was way too predictable. The devil dog turns out to a friendly puppy, the son of satan is raised to be nice... Yawn...

    Gaiman's talent which shone so brightly in The Sandman novels is now just a memory.

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  7. Pratchett's Discworld was published in 1983, 14 years after Bored of the Rings was published.

    Again, Pratchett is hardly original.

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  8. Pratchett is a funny writer if you like that sort of thing, which I do. He plots well and turns phrases brilliantly. Of course it is not original its parody ...

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  9. I’ve read a few of his books, all Discworld novels. Although I thought them funny, they do drag over their length. At the level of the scene, Pratchett is exceptional and deserves all the applause. I just find his books to lack shape. But that’s the danger of magical fantasy. The plot can be too contrived. Heroes can escape any peril with a wave of the writer’s pen. If I remember correctly, the hero in one book was saved by a stampede of shopping trolleys. That alone has always made me suspicious about his prolific output. Comedy without plot is very easy to write. Comic fantasy is the easiest of all. Plotting is the hardest thing in the world. It's why I prefer writers like Kinky Friedman, Dave Barry, David Nobbs, and, of course, Wodehouse, none of whom use magic to escape the necessity of having a plot.

    Reading Pratchett, I was always reminded that Wodehouse always got the arc of the stories nearly as perfect as the scenes. As far as I know, Pratchett never does that. I would imagine he’d be far more suited to writing short stories.

    None of which, of course, diminishes the sad news.

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  10. Although Pratchett may be parody, he could at least add something to literature. What does he add? Something new?

    Oh, its that Tolkien-parody joke... Then Pratchett writes another book, and guess what? Its that same Tolkien-parody joke...

    This is problem with comedy. For example:- Ali G always does the same thing. And Borat is a one-trick pony too, a version of Ali G.

    Pratchett is no different to this. He tells the same old joke over and over gain. That fella has a point - maybe he has alzheimers all along, eh?

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  11. Well said, Nige. A good man, and a brave one. Can't get on with his books, though, as I don't find them funny; and if they're not funny, then there's no point in ploughing on, imho. Funny is the news that a greedy dog has nearly "embuggered" the Wigan Pie Eating Championships to which the BBC, rightly, are currently according more prominence than who'll be the next England footie coach.

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  12. Are they? The BBC? Tell me more, Mark - as you know, I take a keen interest in the pie eating world...

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  13. What a remarkably mean spirited and unpleasant set of comments.

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  14. Nige wrote: "Are they? The BBC? Tell me more, Mark - as you know, I take a keen interest in the pie eating world..."

    Lol. See http://news.bbc.co.uk/, right-hand side, "Also in the News". This entry has a pic and is above the sports news section where the footie stuff is mentioned sans pic. Or, at least, this was so around 1700 PST (pie stuffing time).

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  15. Ho ho great story Mark - I LOL - and I've fwded it to my friend Cheever, who's a bichon frise fan but probably never suspected this hidden pie-eating talent.

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  16. For goodness sake. The man is ill and dying. Why start sniping at his novels?

    The comments show a total lack of empathy for the human pain in this situation. He's never caused any harm (as far as I know). He's not propounded any ideas that may be thought of as inflammatory. Yet, at this point in his life, it seems that the majority of commentors see fit to pour scorn on him.

    Shame on you.

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  17. True, the man's embuggered with a merciless affliction; but, Al P. once told me, in discussing the overweening ego of a poet dying of cancer, a genuine assessment or response to the work has zilch to do with biography. It does no service to literature to play the pity card. Doubt Pratchett would disagree. "Embuggerance" *is* a keeper.

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  18. i think you have to judge a work or body of works separately from the writer, otherwise you might suddenly refuse to read, say, Yeats, if it emerged that he'd done a bit of murder here & there. Then suddenly he'd be okay again if it turned out that it was all a mistake; and so on.

    Having said that i like a lot of Pratchett's work. His early stuff and after a derivative-of-himself middle period, his later stuff is good. Feet of Clay is superb. But if you don't at least smile occasionally while reading him, you probably are missing the point somewhat.

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  19. ...and on a more human note, reading his books helped keep me psychologically afloat when i was very depressed this time last year. i think he has a warm and perceptive 'author's eye', and a very English sense of decency.

    i think i passed him once on the streets of Durham; he was beaming up at the Castle & Cathedral. The writing world will be poorer without him.

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  20. Jesus Christ, you miserable bastards. Pratchett would be the last person to claim that he had contributed to literature. He's oft described himself as a crafstman. And that's what he does - craft amusing but fundamentally inconsequential books.

    To claim that his early-onset a
    Alzheimer'sin someway explains novels that were published decades ago is peculiar. I eagerly await the day that stecven griscz has gum disease, on which I can can blame his blog comment.

    I have to admit to being amused by several of his books. So shoot me. Or maybe blame it on an illness that becomes obvious later in life (my ulcer does not count).

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  21. Oops, sorry, I said "bastards". Closer reading has revealed that I really meant the singular. Well done Steve.

    As an aside, to claim that Bored of the Rings invalidates parody probably misses the point by a couple of millennia.

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  22. Sorry, I ought to have noted Selina has a point.

    >>For goodness sake. The man is ill and dying. Why start sniping at his novels?<

    The post's subject, "Pratchett's Embuggerance," got hijacked from the get-go. Alzheimer's, of which my mother died, I wouldn't wish on anyone, let alone a writer who seems to be a cut-above in the class, smarts, and circumspection departments. Hellish, a family trauma that takes its own sweet time taking its toll, a trauma he and his wife look to be handling with grace and care. His equanimity is remarkable, laudible, enviable.

    OTOH, given the thread-drift, it seems to me we read a work and divorce ourselves from its creator (of necessity). Otherwise, how explain the durability of writers' works inked by less-than-stellar human beings who committed grievous harms, unspeakable acts, and/or broke the law?

    Think Genet, Burroughs, Mailer, Rimbaud/Verlaine, Ezra P., Celine, Plath and / or Hughes, depending on the colour of your parachute . . . (or, for a larf, The Cannibal Poet featured at The Daily Mirror yesterday).

    Biography does enter the question; but, it ought to exit through its transporting passages of engagement, IMO.

    Selina, I apologise for being a bit thick sometimes.

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  23. Pratchett is a great entertainer - why anyone would write the things people have written here I do not know - ohh... jealousy at his sales?! Thats it...

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