- Format: Kindle Edition
- File Size: 28096 KB
- Print Length: 360 pages
- Publisher: White Owl (30 July 2020)
- Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
- Language: English
- ASIN: B08BZW3LLZ
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Customer reviews: 18 customer ratings
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #17,704 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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The Magic of Terry Pratchett Kindle Edition
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Read this book and you won't find out, though it you read it it will become apparent within the first 100 pages. (Education can have a lot to answer for in a persons life and expectations, and a good teacher can do a lot of good, whereas a bad one ...) The problem with this book is that the author clearly doesn't know or understand who TP was. How his mind worked, what his personal relationships were like, who the real TP was, that is the one who inhabited his skin, not the face he showed to the world.
This makes for a pretty poor biography, because what we have is in effect a history of TP's writings, his relationship with his publishers, and his relationships with his colleagies, and co-workers. We learn barely anything of his relationship with his family, friends, parents etc. Pretty dry and dusty. People are far more than the books they publish, or the jobs they do. This is why Carpenter's biography of Tolkien, McGrath's of Lewis and Lindopp's of Charles Williams (the most famous of the Oxford Inkings), it is because we get an insight into their inner lives, their family lives, their intellectual lives. (And in the case of Williams, how his afterlife affected his family.)
This will no doubt be thr first of a slew of biographies of TP, and I'd recommend being patient and waiting awhile to see what comes out in the coming years. Because if you want to know who TP was, who he really was, what made him tick, what drove him, who he was when the doors were closed and he had his slippers on, then this isn't the book for you.
As a long-time fan of Terry Pratchett who also never got to meet him, this attempt to conjure him into our consciousnesses with words is completely understandable, for all that it seems deeply optimistic. Words have remarkable power but when they are being built on sources that are all publicly available – Terry’s estate have not authorised the biography, although they have wished Marc well with the book – I could not see how it was going to be possible to give me more insight into the man underneath the hat than I already had.
And in all honesty it didn’t. I can’t say that I felt closer to Terry as person after I’d read it than I did before I started. What I can say is that it put everything that I already knew about him into proper chronological order, added a layer of gloss to it and, in addition, provided a detailed and interesting look at Terry’s progression as an author.
The book is well written, clearly set out, and – despite some jumps backwards and forwards between topics which is inevitable with someone like Terry, who had such an interesting career path as well as an astonishingly prolific output – easy to follow. There are footnotes throughout*, the majority of which add to the text rather than take away from it, and Marc is careful to alway cite his sources, which are many and varied and do included people who worked closely with Terry. There are several points where Marc states his opinions as fact but when writing a biography without direct access to the subject’s family or his personal archives, that’s a very hard thing to avoid doing. It does not, for me at least, damage the veracity of the book as a whole.
There were some authorial quirks that niggled away at me as I read. The most noticeable of these being the oft repeated assertion that Terry was a story teller who embellished the tales he told of he own life, so we can’t be certain what really happened in many cases. I don’t doubt for a second that this is true, it is after all what writer do, but I’m not sure we need to be reminded of the fact quite as often as we are.
The chapters which dealt with Terry’s Alzheimer’s and death were kindly, carefully, and sensitively handled. I will not pretend that they did not make me weep, nor that I did not feel again the anger I felt when he died; fury that the world had lost a man whose understanding of humanity was both profound and illuminating and had such a gift for showing others just what humanity was capable of, both good and bad.
What really made the book stand out for me, though, was the deep dive into Terry’s work. I found myself thinking more than once that
a) this book is more a literary analysis of Terry’s whole bibliography than it is a biography, and
b) that the book is all the better for being so.
I was pleased at how much focus was given to Terry’s journalism, early works and non-Discworld books and found the discussion of the Discworld canon, and everything which sprung from it, equally as illuminating.
The Magic of Terry Pratchett has been meticulously researched, carefully put together, and shines brightly with the love Marc clearly has for Terry’s works. The textual analysis is excellent (if highly subjective in parts) and I found the care and attention to detail a fitting memorial to one of my favourite authors. The most magical aspect of Terry’s life, at least from the perspective of those who didn’t know him, is the words he wrote and the worlds he created. What this book gives us, openly and honestly, is the story of those words and I can, therefore, happily recommend it to anyone, regardless of whether they were already a fan of Pterry or someone curious about a man whose name topped the best seller charts so often.
I should also add that I’ve ordered a copy for my shelves as it has definitively earned its place in my collection of Pratchett ephemera.
*because of course there are footnotes, this is Terry being discussed, there couldn’t not be footnotes!