Wednesday's Inspiring Books

Some books you read as a child and they stay with you. Some books you see as a child but you don't pick them up. They're around, but always, somehow, not for you. You know the cover but you couldn't give the title. The colours and the size are familiar from all the times you've seen them around the house, but what are they actually about? Who knows. It's an adult book.

Strangely, the above applies, for me, to Terry Pratchett. My mother and sister were avid readers of his Discworld books for years before I was, and perhaps this is why I didn't pick them up. They were for older, better readers than me. The British covers especially are loud, eye catching and busy - and still somehow adult. Or at least daunting to Young Simon.

But one day, in France on holiday, I did pick one up. Maybe it was because it was out of place in a French campsite, and not around our house in England, and that made it suddenly approachable. The book was Guards! Guards! and it was the first of many I would read.

I'm sure a lot of the jokes went over my head. All the Latin puns, certainly, and even now if I re-read Pratchett books I find new in jokes and references. He's a master at that - at making one book seem like many, seem like something new every time you read it, 

It did influence me, I think, although it's not in the same, direct way as some of these other books. I'm not a funny writer. I like to think I'm a funny person, but my writing is more ... literary? I mean that only to distinguish it from Pratchett's genius, everyman books. I'm just not good enough to write like he does. What I have done, is read so many of his books that there has to be some small part of me he's got to. His writing is complicated and his plots are brilliant, ludicrous and satisfying, and his observations on justice, people, Right and Wrong, and everything else, are piercing in a way only a comedian can be. 

And when I first met the gal who's now my wife, I made a Terry Pratchett joke, and her heart was mine for ever. 'Nuff said!

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