Saturday, June 7, 2014

National Styles

My son picked up a copy of Pratchett's "Snuff" the other day for me. I already read it, but didn't have my own copy. Like any sane person, I'm always delighted to add another Pratchett to the library.

As I writer, I stand (OK, I'm sitting) in awe of the man's wordsmith skills. As an American, I have to say I really like the British flair. My son and I were talking about this, comparing Pratchett's style to Mark Twain. Both of them geniuses, and both of them unmistakably representative of their culture. Twain was quintessentially American. Pratchett is quintessentially British. You can't possibly mistake the two.

Twain's humor can range from an axe to a stiletto. He can be subtle, when he wants to be. But Twain's humor is never understated, and certainly never delicate. Pratchett's humor is Pythonesque. Or maybe, given the extent of the man's popularity, it would be more accurate to say that Python's humor was Pratchett-esque. It's like a tiny boot knife that comes out in the dark. But instead of stabbing for the heart, it flicks out and nicks your earlobe. When you grab for your ear by reflex, he knees you in the groin and scalps you when you bend over. There's always an onion's worth of layers in Pratchett's humor.

That's why I am re-reading this book for the third time, and loving it just as much as the other two times. Maybe more.
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