Sunday, November 30, 2014

A Slip of the Keyboard by Terry Pratchett

A Slip of the Keyboard: Collected Nonfiction by Terry Pratchett, with a Foreword by Neil Gaiman --- 307 pages

Terry Pratchett is, of course, the phenomenally successful and much loved author of the Discworld series and other works of humorous fantasy for adults, teens and children.

This collection of various articles, essays, speeches and interviews spans his career and covers a multitude of topics from the libraries of his youth, to his first job as a newspaper reporter, to his time as press officer for a nuclear power plant, his lifelong fascination with language, literature and history, and his encounters with fans at conventions and on book signing tours.

The book also covers his diagnosis with a rare form of early onset Alzheimer's in 2007, his efforts on behalf of himself and others who suffer from dementia to focus attention and resources on research and --- hopefully --- an eventual cure, although he ruefully acknowledges it will probably come too late for him. And --- more controversially --- his recent public campaign in support of legislation in Great Britain that would allow terminally ill patients to seek assistance in ending their lives at a time and place of their own choosing.

If you are not familiar with Pratchett's comic genius --- he has been called, with good reason, the finest exemplar of British humor since P.G. Wodehouse --- this book is well worth reading, and I hope it will lead you to his other books. I would recommend starting with Good Omens, the book he co-wrote with his good friend Neil Gaiman in 1990. It's not a Discworld novel per se (although Death makes an appearance there along with the other Horsemen) but it's a great introduction to the geni loci of the place.

Click HERE to read a review of a recently published collection of critical essays discussing Pratchett as a moral philosopher who uses humor and fantasy to examine human nature and the condition of the world. Philosophy and Terry Pratchett, edited by James South and Jacob Held. Palgrave Macmillan, December 2014, paperback $27.

Click HERE to read a review of A Slip of the Keyboard from the British Independent.

Click HERE to read a review from the Sydney (Australia) Morning Herald.

Click HERE to read a review from the Buffalo (NY) News.

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