Tuesday, June 30, 2015

book review

Terry Pratchett, A Slip of the Keyboard

After three previous failures, I finally found a Terry Pratchett book I enjoyed reading enough to finish it. But it's not a novel: it's his "collected nonfiction". I read the whole thing despite its being extremely repetitive, as frequently several pieces will cover the same points.

I'd had an impression of Pratchett as being somewhat removed from the details of the f&sf publishing genre, but in his essays on writing and publishing I find that's not so. He was clued in even to the ideas and major works of hard SF, which he didn't write at all. I particularly enjoyed his accounts of his own personal discoveries of literature, some of which I found funny, an experience I hadn't much had with earlier Pratchett books. Why, as a boy he liked heroic fantasy so much that "I even bought and read all the Narnia books in one go, which was [a] bit like a surfeit of Communion wafers."

The last part of the book is sufficiently memorable and important that it may make you forget the rest: it's his pieces on his Alzheimer's, on his determination to demystify the disease, on the proper treatment and the role of the NHS. He made these points to many audiences, so this section is particularly repetitious: if you read just one piece from here, make it his Richard Dimbleby Lecture.

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