Friday, 13 March 2015

Emily Dickinson, minus carriage

Because I could not stop for Death
He kindly stopped for me;
The Carriage held but just Ourselves
And Immortality.
wrote Emily Dickinson.

Nearly a hundred years after Emily took her last carriage ride, another writer much possessed by Death began his own bid for immortality, at least of a literary kind.

Terry Pratchett had a horribly premature end, but I can't help feeling that, thanks to the immensely rich imaginative world he created in his head and the way it spoke to million of his fellow mortals, he lived as full and satisfying a life as any of us can hope to. I haven't read all of his books and probably wouldn't want to read every one, but his fabulously engaging Discworld universe was a fantastic place to hang out and lose yourself in for while, even for those of us who didn't follow the whole series.

For people who haven't read any of the Dicsworld novels, it's probably a good idea to start with the very first one, The Colour of Magic, not because it's one of the best (some of his later ones are much better IMHO), but because it does a great job of introducing how his comic fantasy of a flat earth, where magic is real, works. Once you've read that, well, everyone has different favourites, and there may be some really good ones I haven't read, but I can recommend Equal Rites, Mort, Pyramids, Wyrd Sisters, Reaper Man or Small Gods if you want to spend some time in an entertaining and thoroughly absorbing alternate universe (or look back at a weird, yet recognisable, reflection of the one we actually live in, caught in a comical funhouse mirror).

I hope the implacable, premature Death who stopped for Terry also had a little of the irreverence, mercy and wisdom of the grim reaper who collects souls on the Discworld and that no carriages were involved this time, just a black-robed figure, riding a pale horse called Binky.

Rest in peace, or as Death should say 'REST IN PEACE.'