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Book DetailsISBN: 9781526765505
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Book Review: The Magic of Terry Pratchett by Marc Burrows - Reviewed by CloggieA (26 Sep 2020)
4.5?s “From the young boy living in a cottage with no electricity to the best-selling author living in a 500-year-old manor house with its own grounds, his approach to money never changed: ‘I’m not a rich man,’ he told The Scotsman in 2012, ‘I’m a poor man with a shitload of money.’”
The Magic of Terry Pratchett, by British journalist and author, Marc Burrows, is a fairly brief (360p) biography of a man who has brought joy to countless readers, Sir Terry Pratchett. Burrows takes the reader on a journey through Pratchett’s life: his early childhood and the sound guidance and unfailing support his parents provided, especially when his school experience was found wanting.
When Burrows describes Pratchett’s schooling during the sixties and seventies, it will likely strike a chord with many of Pratchett’s vintage, but the deficit was amply supplemented by the Beaconsfield library, where he became a volunteer to give him unlimited access to books. He boasted that at one stage he had 143 books on loan at the same time.
Burrows details Pratchett’s early career as a journalist and remarks on how this contributed to his literary skills, and his fairly short-lived position in Public Relations, which also furnished him with material for his writing: “Watching as petty bureaucracy and stubborn adherence to the rules scuppered common sense was a useful crash course in human nature.”
Pratchett’s publishing journey is analysed: from his first novel, published at the age of twenty-three, through to the final books published posthumously, Burrows comments on Pratchett’s writing style and content, and how it reflected his life. He describes the seemingly unlikely but enduring friendship with Neil Gaiman, which led to their collaboration on Good Omens, and his tight control over Discworld merchandising and adaptation to other media: stage, film, TV, games.
His unfailing connection with fans is a constant, even late in his career “His relationship with his fanbase was still that of a genre writer, and at events, including the posh parties thrown for this or that Discworld anniversary, he would always prefer to spend time chatting with fans – a number of whom he insisted should always be invited – than with press or industry types.” Examples of his “pay forward” mindset are given.
Pratchett’s handling of his diagnosis with a variant of Alzheimer’s disease is described, his determination to continue writing, and his role as ambassador for dementia conditions, as well as his strong support for “right to die” legislation. The description of his own death is likely to bring a tear to the eye and, in all, this is a book that will have readers dusting off their Terry Pratchett novels for reading/rereading.
The Magic of Terry Pratchett? Clearly, the secret to Pratchett’s success with his inventive and hugely entertaining books, apart from being endowed with a spectacular imagination, is to be a voracious reader, from an early age, and to read very widely. Working as a journalist doesn’t hurt, either, nor does being brought up by parents who instil a strong work ethic. An interesting, informative and moving read. This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by NetGalley and Pen and Sword.
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