Tuesday, September 21, 2021

My hero / Terry Pratchett by Helen Lewis


Terry Pratchett


My hero: 

Terry Pratchett by Helen Lewis

‘I feel part of a tight-knit community of nerds who have only just begun to miss him’ : a fan pays tribute to the author who died yesterday

Friday 13 March 2015

N

o subject was too big for Terry Pratchett, who died on Thursday – once he’d found a way to make it ridiculous. He took on capitalism, religion, sexism, war, death and why you should never buy food from a man with a tray in the street. His books wore their learning lightly, sweeping the reader along on a river of bad puns, self-deprecating footnotes and weird scenarios constructed with impeccable internal logic. Over the course of more than 40 novels, his Discworld series evolved into something much richer and darker than perhaps even he initially expected. Fittingly for someone who spent his final years talking about the need for reform in assisted dying legislation, Pratchett’s best-loved character was Death, an imposing skeleton – who rode a white horse called Binky and spoke IN SMALL CAPS. It was in the persona of Death that Pratchett’s Twitter account announced: “AT LAST, SIR TERRY, WE MUST WALK TOGETHER.”

For me, though, the best character in the Discworld is Samuel Vimes, the descendant of a regicidal ancestor, who ends up as commander of the Watch in the chaotic city of Ankh-Morpork. Because Vimes hates authority, the city’s machiavellian ruler, the Patrician, keeps giving him more just to annoy him. At one point, he wades into a war and tries to arrest both sides for “breach of the peace”. Here was Pratchett’s own view of humanity: we are endlessly fallible, but usually worth saving.

His fans have known since his 2007 Alzheimer’s diagnosis that Pratchett would not make old bones, but his death is still a shock. The books have never been turned into blockbuster movies, so they still feel like a cult secret – despite sales of more than 80m for the Discworld series alone – and I feel part of a tight-knit community of nerds who have only just begun to miss him. It is some consolation that he died as he lived, demonstrating his humane worldview and corkscrew wit. “DON’T THINK OF THIS AS DYING,” says Death in Good Omens. “JUST THINK OF IT AS LEAVING EARLY TO AVOID THE RUSH.”

THE GUARDIAN




2009
001 My hero / Oscar Wilde by Michael Holroyd
002 My hero / Harley Granville-Barker by Richard Eyre
003 My hero / Edward Goldsmith by Zac Goldsmith
004 My hero / Fridtjof Nansen by Sara Wheeler 
005 My hero / Mother Mercedes Lawler IBVM by Antonia Fraser

007 My hero / Ernest Shepard by Richard Holmes
008 My hero / JG Ballard by Will Self
009 My hero / Alan Ross by William Boyd
010 My hero / Ben the labrador by John Banville

011 My hero / Vicent van Gogh by Margaret Drabble
012 My hero / Franz Marek by Eric Hobsbawm

2010

017 My hero / Jack Yeats by Colm Tóibín
018 My hero / Francisco Goya by Diana Athill
019 My hero / Max Stafford-Clark by Sebastian Barry
020 My hero / Arthur Holmes by Richard Fortey

036 My hero / Robert Lowell by Jonathan Raban
037 My hero / Beryl Bainbridge by Michael Holroyd
038 My hero / Charles Schulz by Jenny Colgan
039 My hero / Oliver Knussen by Adam Foulds
040 My hero / Annie Proulx by Alan Warner

041 My hero / David Lynch by Paul Murray
042 My hero / Edwin Morgan by Robert Crawford
043 My hero / Anne Lister by Emma Donoghue
044 My hero / Jane Helen Harrinson by Mary Beard
045 My hero / Edmund Burke by David Marquand
046 My hero / Shelagh Deleaney by Jeanette Winterson
047 My hero / Christopher Marlowe by Val McDermid
048 My hero / Gwen John by Anne Enright
049 My hero / Michael Mayne by Susan Hill
050 My hero / Stanley Spencer by Howard Jacobson

051 My hero / William Beveridge by Will Hutton
052 My hero / Jean McConville by Amanda Foreman
053 My hero / Alexander Pushkin by Elaine Feinstein
058 My hero / Cy Twombly by Edmund de Waal

2011
079 My hero / Gene Wolfe by Neil Gaiman
087 My hero / Alberto Moravia by John Burnside
096 My hero / Isaac Babel by AD Miller
097 Lucian Freud by Esi Edugyan
100 Thomas Tranströmer by Robin Robertson
102 My hero / David Hockney by Susan Hill

2012

190 My hero / Iris Murdoch by Charlotte Mendelson
194 My hero / René Descartes by James Kelman
199 My hero / Albert Camus by Geoff Dyer

2015
2016


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