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Going Postal, Terry Pratchett


Pratchett shows up several times on the NPR Sci-Fi/Fantasy list that I’m still slogging through; this is not at all something I would pick up on my own, but after having it highly recommended several times (by the same person, but still), I finally checked it out, and I’m glad I did.

The premise of this book is pretty funny in light of the US Postal Service’s present decline in favor; in this story, a convicted swindler gets a second chance at life (albeit post-execution) — as Postmaster of the long defunct Postal Service, including a staff of one junior postman, a pin collector, and a cat. Our hero, with the unforgettable name of Moist Van Lipwig, also finds himself trailed by a clay, fire-filled golum who goes by the name “Pump,” who turns out to be quite handy in cleaning up the piles of letters (several decades worth, in fact). There is also the rival service, a complex mechanical messaging technology known as the Grand Trunk, run by a bullying businessman named Reacher Gilt.

All that said, I probably would have skipped over this novel if it weren’t for the urging of the recommender. And it took me a while to get into the flow of Pratchett’s writing, especially the peculiar humor which permeates his work. However, having now worked in some pretty odd places and with some odd people myself, I definitely get this book more than I would have, say, ten years ago. I’ll be adding more Pratchett to my “to-read” list because of this book, although I think these are a kind of book that I have to be in a certain mood to read. It’s rather challenging to go from dystopian fiction and suspense to this.

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