I was born at the time when Terry Pratchett's career had already taken off and he'd set out to work diligently on his novels - both those of the Discworld series and those set in unrelated worlds. One of the first full-length novels I read as a child was Wyrd Sisters - the sixth novel in the Discworld series. It was also the first literary satire that I came across - my introduction to the genius overlap between humor and literature, and one which delighted and intrigued me in turn. I proceeded to explore the Discworld - and then venture out of Discworld - in a haphazard order, with all the childish enthusiasm a book-lover in the making can muster. My mother read each novel alongside me - sometimes before me - and our every trip to a bookstore resulted in an addition to our ever-growing Terry Pratchett collection. No bookstore clerk seemed willing to tell us exactly how many books there were in total, or which order they were supposed to be read in - but it hardly mattered. As long as there were novels, we would be reading and re-reading them, and our discussions went far beyond the contents of just one. We would get introduced to characters we'd already met in latter books, then have a-ha moments when we finally understood some references we'd come across in our chaotic, non-sequential exploration of Discworld, and of Terry Pratchett.
My favorite character, incidentally, was Death. Today I am not entirely sure if I am happy or devastated by the fact.
Terry Pratchett was also my introduction to Neil Gaiman - through their collaboration on Good Omens. The novel was prefaced with the comment that it's a miracle how it ever became written, considering the fact that Terry was an early bird and Neil a night owl. And from then on out, for as long as I lived with my parents, my mother and I would reference this tidbit when we'd pass one another in the hallway - me on my way to bed, her on her way to work.
"Good morning, Terry."
"Good night, Neil."
"Good morning, Neil."
"Good night, Terry."
Following Terry's diagnosis with Alzheimer's and my grandmother's passing after a long struggle with the disease, I went on to major in psychology. Last year, in my final year of undergraduate studies, I took a course in Social psychopathology, which encouraged debate on controversial topics. On the day these debates were held - publicly and loudly, to the ire of other professors in the building - I was (justifiably) late to class a full hour, showing up for the very end of the debate on assisted suicide. I alighted on an auditorium full of tears, grief and general sadness, only to be told that it was Terry's impassioned speech on the subject, played via YouTube, that had closed the debate. Its impact was such that it had reduced a mass of 21 year-old soon-to-be graduates to sobs, including the opposing side. I could never decide if I was glad or sad to have missed it.
When I started grad school, I met my friend Natalie and became a book blogger - devoting a large part of my free time solely to the promotion, discussion and appreciation of books. It was a hobby a long time in the making, and largely influenced by those first literary heroes and their wildly talented creators. And if we ever touched on the subject of the humor in literature - whether on the blog, on social media or in our own personal discussions, I would start with Terry's work and go from there. Natalie and I are part of the "Generation Y", which we choose to call the Harry Potter generation. The reason is obvious. We feel like it was books, more than any other form of entertainment, which shaped our childhoods. These books led us to become impassioned readers, devoted book-lovers and outspoken enthusiasts in all-things-literature. Most days it feels like we owe large parts of ourselves to these authors who penned our youth, and despite our daily immersion in the literary community, it is a kind of influence that can't be fully explained, and one which we cannot give enough thanks for to those who deserve it the most. Just a few short days ago, a "love letter to bookbloggers" was published in The Guardian, by a grateful author who marveled that we are a powerful, vocal force which does what they do for free and out of love. From a book blogger's perspective, however, it is these authors we promote who we can never quite thank as they ought to be thanked. And it is our pleasure to try at every turn. In the end, it was Sir Pratchett himself who said "No more words. We know them all, all the words that should not be said. But you have made my world more perfect." This encapsulates it all better than we ourselves could have ever expressed it.
This afternoon, the same Guardian published Terry Pratchett's obituary. And one of these authors who shaped a generation - myself included - has left us forever. I will miss Sir Terry Pratchett's books. I will miss Discworld, and the anticipation of the upcoming release. I will miss the many stories that surely remained untold and the characters we could have met. But most of all, I will miss Sir Terry Pratchett himself - the genius, the humor, the fantastical mind and the eternally kind soul.
And today, for one last time, I will be calling my mother to say
Good night, Terry.
You have made my world more perfect.
GOOD NIGHT, TERRY PRATCHETT
4/ 5Oleh The Honest Bookclub