Thursday, October 13, 2011

Finished Reading Snuff, Night Circus, Clockwork

The Night CircusThe Clockwork Rocket (Orthogonal) Finished reading Snuff by Terry Pratchett and enjoyed it so much it inspired me to finish The Clockwork Rocket by Greg Egan and The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Reading a good book gives you such a high sometimes that you immediately go out looking for that high again. Night Circus did that, but Clockwork missed the mark.

|Terry Pratchett |Snuff I knew even before I was halfway through the first chapter that I was going to enjoy the new Discworld novel more than any of the books I've read in the last few months. Pratchett applies his sense of humour at two levels: the slapstick and poop-joke, "low brow" humour that catches you by surprise you can't help laughing out loud at and the subtle and clever look at culture and personal relationships.

Commander Vimes takes the wife and kid to the country for a two week vacation and stumbles upon a case that he cannot ignore. The three three threads that run through the book are Vimes's conflict with his inner darkness, Vimes's relationship with his family and position in society, and the position of Goblins in Discworld culture.

Its a Vimes-centric story with wifename, son-name and Willikins the butler/gentlemans gentleman visiting the Country house and estate. Vimes meets up with the local "color" in the form of the local inkeeper, smith, and sherrif.

The bad guys in the story resonate with current events as they are the wealthy/powerful who think they can make up the law as they need it to serve their own purposes. Vimes represents the law as serving everyone, not just the rich.
You are more important than girls in service. You are more important than anybody else in the Watch. You are mistaking value for worth, I think.’
Pratchett is not all silliness and fantasy adventure. Snuff tries to share a flavour of what middle ages village life was like. Learning about a word like gongfermor is always a treat.
Gong farmer (also known as a gongfermor, gongfermour, gong-fayer, gong-fower or gong scourer), was a term that entered use in Tudor England to describe someone who dug out and removed human excrement from privies and cesspits; the word "gong" was used for both a privy and its contents.

‘What sort of thing were you thinking of writing, Jane?’ The girl looked embarrassed. ‘Well, commander, at the moment I’m working on what might be considered a novel about the complexities of personal relationships, with all their hopes and dreams and misunderstandings.’ She coughed nervously, as if apologizing.
Pratchett takes a poke at Jane Eyre (Sense and Sensibility) I wonder if he read Sense and Sensibility and Zombies.
It’s not all in your head, commander: no matter what you hear, I sometimes hear it too. Oh dear, you of all people must recognize a substition when you’re possessed by it? It’s the opposite of a superstition: it’s real even if you don’t believe in it.
Even if its not a real word its a cool idea.
...feared that moment was coming closer. Possibly only the presence of Feeney was holding the darkness at bay, the dreadful urge to do the hangman out of his entitlement of a dollar for the drop, thruppence for the rope and sixpence for his beer. How easy it is to kill, yes, but not when a smart young copper who thinks you are a good guy is looking to you. At home, the Watch and his family surrounded Vimes like a wall. Here the good guy was the good guy because he didn’t want anyone to see him being bad. He did not want to be ashamed. He did not want to be the darkness.
The theme of darkness important moreso than adding goblins. Most important, of course, is the funny:
‘You know, I’ve got lots of poo,’ said Young Sam proudly. ‘I keep it in jam jars and I’ve got a lab o ra tory in the lava tory. Have you got any ele phant poo? It goes – and here he paused for ef fect – ‘dung!’