Yesterday morning, working at the library, I came across a Terry Pratchett book I hadn’t known had been published: Dragons at Crumbling Castle, a collection of his earliest writings. It made me glad to see a little more Pratchett enter the world.
Two hours later, he passed away.
We like to call well-known people “celebrities”, perhaps because its easier than thinking of them as people. But people they are, and like all people, they die. Usually this elicits from me a sad nod, a thoughtful sigh, and little more. But Sir Terry’s death hit me harder than most.
There are some authors that I love so much, that I go out and immediately read everything they’ve ever written. I want to take in all they’ve ever written and make it a part of me.
But there are other authors I love even more than that. These authors, I read very, very slowly, carefully rationing out what they’ve read because I need to make them last for the long haul. I don’t want to live in a world where there is no longer a book of theirs that I have yet to read.
Terry Pratchett was one of those. Looking at my bookshelf, I see what now seems to be a very paltry collection of 14 of his books, only three of which I have read. There is now a finite amount of Pratchett left. I must be careful how I enjoy it.
Looking at my bookshelf, where I once saw names, I now see years. Kurt Vonnegut (2007). P.G. Wodehouse (1975). Ray Bradbury (2012). Shel Silverstein (1999). C.S. Lewis (1963). Michael Crichton (2008). J.R.R. Tolkien (1973). Isaac Asimov (1992). Jean Merrill (2012). Mark Twain (1910). Agatha Christie (1976). Douglas Adams (2001). Roald Dahl (1990).
Terry Pratchett (2015).
It feels like a friend has died. I can’t say I was ever a friend to him, but I took his wit, his wisdom, his humor, and his humanity as he poured it out to us on the page.
He was a brave man, facing early-onset Alzheimers with grace and courage. He was also a funny one, creating a world that floated through space on the back of a giant turtle, where witches and wizards ran rough-shod over the shape of reality, and Death might be persuaded to stop for a bit of tea.
He’s one of the reasons I first started writing. My first full-length work was a parody of The Hobbit, one which likely borrowed perhaps a bit too much from Sir Terry’s own world of satirical fantasy. I only wish these words would do a better job of commemorating him. Since they aren’t, I’ll steal a few of his own, from his novel Reaper Man.
“No one is actually dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away…”
Thank you, Terry, for all the joy you’ve given. Your ripples will not die away for a long time to come.