Sunday, 15 June 2008

Making Money - Terry Pratchett

Terry Pratchett doesn’t produce bad books, just some that are not as good as the others. This isn’t destined to be one of his classics, largely because it is a re-run of Going Postal, and if you’ve told a story, why revisit unless you like the characters? And if you like the characters, why not give them a chance to develop?

Here we find an amiable romp, with a collection of the usual suspects in terms of plot devices, and no sense of danger, no sense that the villains might actually be nasty, with a background cast of cheery city dwellers who belong in a musical rather than a satire. Which is a shame given the subject matter. The banking system has always had a very dark underside and the inept guess work by which international finance is run has the potential (often realised) to destroy the lives of millions of ordinary hard working people.

Indeed, perhaps Mr Pratchett’s fire has died down a bit. Not surprising given the recent news about his health. I do not know how that would affect the quality of his writing but certainly, his third Tiffany Aching novel was a poor parody of his own work. You could see a powerful story there trying to get out. But it was smothered by the incessant and weak attempts at making the Nac Mac Feegle into a comic interlude whilst rewriting a story already written. The same is true of Making Money.

Having said that, I would far rather sit down with a Terry Pratchett novel than most of our lauded literati. Even his not-so-good books outstrip them in so many ways. His subject matter, his style, his magical use of prose and humour, all combine to produce works that are far better studies of the human condition and human society than many an angst ridden piece of high literature. And he has given us a body of work that any five other authors would have been pushed to produce between them. Long may he continue to do so.