One of the gifts I gave Mum this Christmas was The Hogfather DVD. We watched it last night but had to stop halfway through as it goes on for 185 minutes. I should probably have paid attention to the Episode 1 / Episode 2 choices in the menu.
Anyway, we got around to discussing it. I said it reminded me of Dickens – stories like Oliver Twist and A Christmas Carol. That’s probably no accident, but it’s a while since I’ve read The Hogfather. The DVD is actually pretty sober, and we didn’t laugh very much.
Mum said when she read it, she felt it was a good idea but…. it didn’t quite cut the mustard for some reason.
“Something was missing,” I agreed.
“I don’t know why that Susan was so involved in the plot.”
We thought about it for a minute, rather sadly.
“What I think is,” I said, “Terry Pratchett stretched himself too thin. There are all these different characters in his books, but the ones you got fond of sometimes disappeared, never to be seen again, and then you would have to try to be interested in a different group of characters.”
“Yes, I think that’s true,” said Mum.
“One of the characters I was fond of (but disappeared) was Rincewind.”
“And the Luggage, and the little dog,” said Mum.
Actually I forgot about the little dog… but not the Luggage. Jolly the Trolley is related to him.
That’s Jolly the Trolley on the left.
I just had to squeeze that in, didn’t I? It’s a joke of ours – but Terry Pratchett did base the Luggage on a noisy trolley some lady was pulling along, rattling and bumping busily (a very ‘Jolly the Trolley’ habit) so for all we know, they really are relations…
“Also…” I said, getting into my stride, “something I remember thinking about some of the books is that the plot was hard to follow. He had a tendency to say ‘such and such happened’ then abruptly switch to something else without explaining it. You had no idea what any of it meant till you got to the end of the book and then, IF you looked back, you might understand what some of those odd episodes were about.”
“You don’t fully understand some of the jokes till you read it for the second or third time,” said Mum.
She HAS read them two or three times. I read some of the earlier books twice but the rest of them just once. Mum liked them enough to reread most – and I think that’s a point worth making.
This blog post is not a complaint about Terry Pratchett – I love his books. I did sometimes lose my way in them, but I appreciate the whole idea of the Discworld; I understand that it wouldn’t be a ‘world’ without all those characters in different areas and countries to meet and find out about. We have our special favourites amongst the books – Mum likes Wyrd Sisters and Interesting Times. I’ve not made up my mind yet, but Wyrd Sisters is high in my regard too, and I loved the one where Greebo the cat went to the opera… Nanny Ogg was in that, though Granny Weatherwax was more my cup of tea.
I’ll read them all again (in order) – I might understand them better next time round. Something that Mum keeps talking about is worth mentioning here as well… people say they don’t find the prospect of dying quite so frightening after being introduced to Death in the Terry Pratchett books. I have to say, of all the Discworld characters who romp through the books, Death’s the one constant.
Anthropomorphical personification – it keeps us from going off our trolleys. Or is that a paradox?