June 05, 2007
Book Review: The Truth by Terry Pratchett
Whenever I am down in the dumps, I turn to Terry Pratchett to make me feel better. He takes a genre of literature I love, turns it on its head, wordsmiths it a bit, and out pops a satire on modern culture. Itís amazing to watch him do it.
I just finished reading one of his funnier books entitled The Truth. Of course, the truth, as we all know is a tricky thing and when the newspaper is invented in the city of Ankh-Morpork the truth is twisted even further. After all, "Most of what you get taught is lies. It has to be. Sometimes if you get the truth all at once, you can't understand it."
William de Worde is content publishing his little newsletters for the wealthy. But when the printing press is brought to Ankh-Morpork, he finds himself at the helm of the Discworldís first newspaper. De Worde then finds that a reporterís job is much like a pliceman's, only rather than being accountable to the government, the reporter is accountable to the public and all its strange appetites (and is paid rather less).
Pratchett deftly weaves satire about the reporterís profession with a simple mystery set in fantasy world. It is a summer beach readerís dream. You get a good story, clever wordplay, lots of action, and strangely shaped vegetables. The book is not overlong, is written in short vignettes that allow you to get up and cool off in the water without stopping in the middle of an important part.
The book is lighthearted and winsome. Pratchettís talent for simile and metaphor, and the odd use of the footnote (in fiction?!?) combine to create a novel that speaks essential truths about the nature of humanity, the culture it has created, and the hilarity of it all.
Some of the humor is sexual, but not in a gross or graphic way like some humorists. It is euphemistic mostly, and it is in no way the majority of the jokes. Pratchett relies instead on the inherent funniness of similar words or word sounds, creative description, and fast-pace wording to deliver the full punch of his jokes.
Nonetheless, these are not books for children or teens. A lot of the jokes would only be understood by adults, although teens might like the story as adventure. Like the movie Shrek, different minds will take think different parts are funny, and life experience will bring out some jokes and minimize others, just as the opposite is true. Unlike Shrek, The Truth has more adult humor and language so the conservative reader may want to avoid letting their children read it.
All of Terry Pratchettís books should be required reading. No reader of fantasy should go without a few of his volumes in their library, and everyone who likes to read just for the fun of it ought to take one or two on his next vacation. You will not regret it.Posted by John on June 5, 2007 02:13 PM | Posted to Fantasy | Humor