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A Slip of the Keyboard: Collected Non-Fiction

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Terry Pratchett has earned a place in the hearts of readers the world over with his bestselling Discworld series - but in recent years he has become equally well-known and respected as an outspoken campaigner for causes including Alzheimer's research and animal rights. A Slip of the Keyboard brings together for the first time the finest examples of Pratchett's non fiction writing, both serious and surreal: from musings on mushrooms to what it means to be a writer (and why banana daiquiris are so important); from memories of Granny Pratchett to speculation about Gandalf's love life, and passionate defences of the causes dear to him.

With all the humour and humanity that have made his novels so enduringly popular, this collection brings Pratchett out from behind the scenes of the Discworld to speak for himself - man and boy, bibliophile and computer geek, champion of hats, orang-utans and Dignity in Dying.

315 pages, Hardcover

First published September 23, 2014

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About the author

Terry Pratchett

467 books39.8k followers
Born Terence David John Pratchett, Sir Terry Pratchett sold his first story when he was thirteen, which earned him enough money to buy a second-hand typewriter. His first novel, a humorous fantasy entitled The Carpet People, appeared in 1971 from the publisher Colin Smythe.

Terry worked for many years as a journalist and press officer, writing in his spare time and publishing a number of novels, including his first Discworld novel, The Color of Magic, in 1983. In 1987, he turned to writing full time.

There are over 40 books in the Discworld series, of which four are written for children. The first of these, The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents, won the Carnegie Medal.

A non-Discworld book, Good Omens, his 1990 collaboration with Neil Gaiman, has been a longtime bestseller and was reissued in hardcover by William Morrow in early 2006 (it is also available as a mass market paperback - Harper Torch, 2006 - and trade paperback - Harper Paperbacks, 2006).

In 2008, Harper Children's published Terry's standalone non-Discworld YA novel, Nation. Terry published Snuff in October 2011.

Regarded as one of the most significant contemporary English-language satirists, Pratchett has won numerous literary awards, was named an Officer of the British Empire (OBE) “for services to literature” in 1998, and has received honorary doctorates from the University of Warwick in 1999, the University of Portsmouth in 2001, the University of Bath in 2003, the University of Bristol in 2004, Buckinghamshire New University in 2008, the University of Dublin in 2008, Bradford University in 2009, the University of Winchester in 2009, and The Open University in 2013 for his contribution to Public Service.

In Dec. of 2007, Pratchett disclosed that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. On 18 Feb, 2009, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II.

He was awarded the World Fantasy Life Achievement Award in 2010.

Sir Terry Pratchett passed away on 12th March 2015.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 688 reviews
Profile Image for Paul.
2,306 reviews20 followers
May 25, 2016
How is it possible to miss somebody so much when you've never even met them face-to-face?

I can't believe Terry Pratchett has been gone for over a year. His death affected me so much that I knew it would be a while before I could read one of this books again. The time has finally come.

This collection of non-fiction is an absolute delight for fans of this wonderful man. You experience his incredible sense of humour. You experience his compassion. You experience his anger. What you get here is a small slice of Terry Pratchett the man, speaking to us directly, as himself, rather than through one of the incredible worlds he created.

This wasn't an easy read for me. It was painful to have Terry talk to me from 'beyond the grave' and I cried while reading it... a lot. I also laughed a lot, too, because the book is damned funny. He covers a lot of topics here, from mushroom picking in the small hours of the morning to assisted dying, and he writes them all in his own brutally yet hilariously honest style.

It was good to spend some time with you, Terry, and I promise I'll return to the Discworld one of these days... but probably not too soon. I know you won't mind waiting.
Profile Image for Jim.
Author 6 books2,016 followers
April 4, 2018
I'm not sure I've ever read one of his books all the way through & I've tried quite a few over the years since he's so popular & many of his books wound up in my hands. He writes humor, British humor, which leaves me cold. I usually think it's too obvious to be funny or just don't get it. Sometimes it's the odd words that sound like the same language I speak, but they mean something completely different & are pronounced in a funny ways with weird accents.

In any case, while his fiction doesn't interest me, I read enough about his personal life & views to think this collection would & it did. For instance, steam rolling his hard drives so no one pulls 'new' books out after his demise is a wonderful idea & full of style. His battle with Alzheimer's & opinions on the 'right to die' also interested me.

Below I listed the TOC with just a bit at the end of each of the 3 sections. Scroll through it quickly & you'll get a good idea of the topics & times. There was definitely repetition, less than I would have thought, though.

Foreword by Neil Gaiman
A Scribbling Intruder
Thought Progress (1989)
Palmtop (1993)
The Choice Word (2000)
How to Be a Professional Boxer (2005)
Brewer’s Boy (1999)
Paperback Writer (2003)
Advice to Booksellers (1999)
No Worries (1998)
Conventional Wisdom (2011)
Straight from the Heart, via the Groin (2004)
Discworld Turns 21 (2004)
Kevins (1993)
Wyrd Ideas (1999)
Notes from a Successful Fantasy Author: Keep It Real (2007)
Whose Fantasy Are You? (1991)
Why Gandalf Never Married (1985)
Roots of Fantasy (1989)
Elves Were Bastards (1992)
Let There Be Dragons (1993)
Magic Kingdoms (1999)
Cult Classic (2001)
Neil Gaiman: Amazing Master Conjuror (2002)
2001 Carnegie Medal Award Speech (2002)
Boston Globe–Horn Book Award Speech for Nation (2009)
Watching Nation (2009)
Doctor Who? (2001)
A Word About Hats (2001)
The first section was both informative & funny. His take on Tolkein's LOTR was incredibly similar to mine a decade later. Yes, I have the same movie in my mind & also quit reading it annually, eventually. I'm not sure why either, but came to the same conclusion; it plays without the need to read.

I liked the boxer analogy to writing & his descriptions of how he writes, where his ideas come from, & his education due to fantasy reading. His defense of reading fantasy is excellent & he just seemed like a really nice guy. Anyone that can appreciate so many of Chesterton's words without his belief must be extremely tolerant.

A Twit and a Dreamer
The Big Store (2002)
Roundhead Wood, Forty Green (1996)
A Star Pupil (2011)
On Granny Pratchett (2004)
Tales of Wonder and of Porn (2004)
Letter to Vector (1963)
Writer’s Choice (2004)
Introduction to Roy Lewis’s The Evolution Man (1989)
The King and I, or How the Bottom Has Dropped Out of the Wise Man Business (1970)
Honey, These Bees Had a Heart of Gold (1976)
That Sounds Fungi, It Must Be the Dawn Chorus (1976)
Introduction to The Leaky Establishment by David Langford (2001)
The Meaning of My Christmas (1997)
Alien Christmas (1987)
2001: The Vision and the Reality (2000)
The God Moment (2008)
A Genuine Absent-minded Professor (2010)
Saturdays (2011)
Autobiographical shorts that were interesting. His mind & talents wander around even more than mine do. Casting a gold bee & the silence of early morning mushroom picking were both fun.

Days of Rage
On Excellence in Schools. Education: What It Means to You (1997)
The Orangutans Are Dying (2000)
The NHS Is Seriously Injured (2008)
I’m Slipping Away a Bit at a Time . . . and All I Can Do Is Watch It Happen (2008)
Taxworld (2009)
Point Me to Heaven When the Final Chapter Comes (2009)
The Richard Dimbleby Lecture: Shaking Hands with Death (2010)
At Last We Have Real Compassion in Assisted-Dying Guidelines (2010)
Assisted Dying: It’s Time the Government Gave Us the Right to End Our Lives (2011)
Death Knocked and We Let Him In (2011)
A Week in the Death of Terry Pratchett (2011)
And Finally . . .
Terry Pratchett’s Wild Unattached Footnotes to Life (1990)
A lot of interesting different bits in this one.
- Education goes about it wrongly in the UK. Terry, you have no clue how much worse it is in the US. I agreed with everything you wrote. Libraries are the way to go.
- The orangutans aren't doing any better, I'm sorry to say.
- 50% taxes... That seems steep, but in a socialist country with 'free' health services, you're no worse than we are here in the US where the income tax rates are only about half that, but then we go on to tax everything multiple times plus fees. We won't discuss health care idiocies since even a healthy person can easily spend 10% of their gross pay. If sick, just hand over the wallet, a limb or two, & first born BEFORE treatment. They'll get the rest of the pounds of flesh afterward. Oh & the doctor can fit me in only 2 months from the Tuesday after next? Marvelous! SMH
- The NHS doesn't cover a lot? You can get Viagra but not needed medication for Alzheimer's? You're penalized for paying your own way? This a condition of bureaucracies. In order to justify themselves, they have to create stupid rules that inhibit the very thing they are supposed to foster.
- Assisted dying... I couldn't agree more. We don't know how to die anymore.
The following link is one of the sections above & sums up Prachette's position well.
We need this. I also highly recommend Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End. Atul Gawande is a doctor & the son of 2 doctors. He covers the subject well.

I'm so glad I read this. What a great guy he seems to have been. Rarely does he speak negatively about anything, but manages to show his disapproval by poking some fun & showing other things in a more positive light. I loved how his mind flitted about through so many subjects & his loss was a great one. I'll probably have to try reading one of his books again. I'm not sure I've tried one in audio. Maybe that's the ticket. This one was very well narrated. A real pleasure & I highly recommend it to all.
Profile Image for Nataliya Yaneva.
165 reviews323 followers
November 29, 2017
Много… съкровена книга. Много истинска. Аз, както предполагам и доста хора, съм свикнала да гледам на Тери Пратчет като на творец на смях. Романите му иронизират доста теми, често – тъпотата на хората – тук няма цитирам Айнщайн и неговата мисъл за двете безгранични неща – човешката глупост и вселената, а самия Тери Пратчет: Real stupidity beats artificial intelligence every time. Изкуство си е да се присмиваш на смотаните неща, които видът ти прави, с ясното съзнание, че част от тях ги правиш и ти самият. Изкуство си е да се надсмиваш над себе си. Тери Пратчет го владее съвършено. A Slip of the Keyboard от друга страна е мечтателна, размишляваща, гневна… някъде там измежду всички тези емоции е и забавното, просто защото това е Тери Пратчет. Не би могло да бъде иначе.

Книгата е като онези весели одеялца, които са направени от съшити непасващи си квадрати, и като ги гледаш погледът ти леко се разфокусира от множеството цветове. Лично моят на моменти се разфокусираше от насълзени очи; от късчетата истински човек, които успях да видя отвъд неизменно духовитото фентъзи; от удивлението, което е изпитвал към света; от любовта му към хората (въпреки недостатъците им, а може би именно заради тях). Тери Пратчет пише все едно че прави магия – виждаш някакви мъгляви изходни елементи, чието съчетаване изглежда едва ли не логично, виждаш и крайния резултат, но това, което реално се случва по средата, си остава енигма.
Научих, че литературата не е задължително ескейпизъм. Тя може и да е път към хората, а не от тях за другаде. Научих, че фентъзито не е ценно с това, че ти казва, че дракони съществуват; важното е, че ти показва как можеш да ги победиш. Всъщност научих и че такова нещо като фентъзи няма – има само различна гледна точка към съвсем обикновени и ежедневни неща и това е по-фантастично и от най-сериозното бълнуване.

В последната част от сборника Тери Пратчет обсъжда асистираната смърт и инициативите му за узаконяването ѝ в Англия. Тъй като страда от рядка форма на Алцхаймер, за него единственият вариант е малко по малко да се изплъзва на самия себе си, както той сам го определя. А как да искаш да изгубиш себе си, когато в теб има толкова много? Всъщност Тери Пратчет основно защитава правото си да избира дали и как да си отиде. От смъртта не го е страх, страх го е от празнотата, която може да я предшества. Ненапразно и мотото на личния му герб е Noli Timere Messorem – Don’t fear the Reaper. В крайна сметка той си отиде с достойнство. И с котка на леглото, доколкото прочетох. I guess in this final chapter someone did point him to Heaven.

Requiescat in pace
Profile Image for Regina.
351 reviews59 followers
February 4, 2016
I love Terry Pratchett's humor even in talking about his Alzheimer's and "assisted death." Oh, and this book prompted me to write my first ever fan letter Here it is.

Dear Sir Terry Pratchett,

I am not a Kevin.

I don’t want you to write my loved one into one of your books. I’m not a writer, but a reader, so I live on the other side of the Holy Grail. I already know where great ideas come from. They come from books, great and small, and minds, great and small. I’m not a librarian but I do work in a library, and have managed book stores, and have my own online bookstore from which I sell my own personal collection – the ones I can bare to let go – and all that to say that I find your books to be quite real. You are among my favorite authors but I’m not doing any projects and so don’t require you to fill out any surveys.

I’m probably definitely not your biggest fan. I haven’t read all of your books but I plan to eventually (I’m being rather stingy with them - trying to take them slowly.) I seem to exist somewhere in the midrange of your readership and, although I have many favorite books, The Wee Free Men consistently falls within my favorite top ten. I discovered it in 2010 when we, as a family, read it together. We have a habit of reading during dinner, taking turns so that everyone gets a chance to be a bit of a ham (and the others get a chance to eat). Do you know how difficult it is to find a book to interest a range of readers from 40something adults to boys ages 18 and 15 and a girl age 8? That is a rare book.

I know that your time is precious and I don’t require a response. I just wanted to say thank you. Not only for me, but also for my children, thank you. You have been a glorious inspiration. I’m so glad that, for the most part, you have had fun and that we have had the opportunity to benefit from it.

Gratefully yours,
(Regina Miller-Fierke)
Profile Image for Paul.
2,101 reviews
May 15, 2015
The late great Sir Terry Pratchett, deity of Discworld, has made me laugh an awful lot over the past few years (OK decades), with his richly imaginative fantasy series. In a departure from his normal output this is a collection of articles, speeches and letters that he has written since the late 1980’s. But over recent years he has become equally well known for being an outspoken campaigner for causes such as orang-utans and of course Alzheimer's and assisted death.. This collection is the very best of those articles, grouped under three headings; A Scribbling intruder, A Twit and a Dreamer and Days of Rage.

From the time he announced that he had Posterior Cortical Atrophy, he has moved from the hazy lights of the science fiction and fantasy convention world, into the brighter glare of the modern media world. And in this world he showed his humanity, through humour and eloquence, and that a multi million best selling author could be a regular bloke with a fondness for banana daiquiris’s. He writes on subjects as diverse as hats, past head teachers, why elves are bastards, his beloved grandmother and being a genuinely absentminded professor.

His writing is brilliant. And poignant. And funny; really funny. And this is nonfiction too. The way that he observed life and people is unparalleled, a talent that he used to highlight injustices and the frequent idiocy of the world that we live in, and explore within the world he created. But what comes through this collection is his wit and humour. The letter he sent to The Times about tax is a classic example of restrained wit, and there are other examples all the way through.

Really pleased to have read this, it is a great collection. Even though he is seen as purely a fantasy writer, I hope that the wider literary world will come to fully appreciate the genius in his writing in time.
Profile Image for Christine.
6,529 reviews469 followers
September 28, 2014
Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley. I should note, however, that I pre-ordered the book before I got the digital ARC. It came the day before I sat down to write this review.

Perhaps in recent years, Pratchett has come to wider attention because of his activism in the right to die movement. I don’t know; it’s hard to judge here in American. I did have a shy student who actually came out of his shell when he discovered that I read and enjoyed Pratchett.

Pratchett’s appeal seems to lie in the fact that he is a great humanist, feminist, realistic, and pro-compassion, even if, as Neil Gaiman shows in his introduction, you can feel Pratchett’s rage when you read his work. Even Dr. Who nods to him.

A Slip of the Keyboard contains Pratchett essays and speeches. The topics include writing, the Discworld, fans, religion, fantasy writing, and of course, his battle with Alzheimer's. At times, there is a little too much repetition. This is true, in particular, of the first section of the book. This section contains the essays (and speeches) on fantasy literature and writing. Many of the fantasy essays are about what exactly are fantasy and its place in literature. Pratchett’s right, but considering many fantasy readers think the same way (I know I do) it is a bit general and not very enlightening to read essay after essay that says basically, what you and most fantasy readers are thinking. It’s a bit too much of the rich chocolate cake, if you know what I mean. There is brilliance here. If you haven’t read “Why Gandalf Never Married”, you really should. The essays about Nation – Pratchett’s best book (it should have won the bloody Booker, bastards) – are particularly powerful. The descriptions of book tours and cons are amusing. It’s also worth reading for phrases like “We spray our fantasies on the landscape like a dog sprays urine” or what Pratchett said about his female characters when accepting the Horn Book Award, “Oh, they sometimes start out soppy as anything, but as soon as they find that it doesn’t work, they tend to become a reasonably close relative of Miss Piggy”.

Miss Piggy didn’t just teach Yoda!

The most powerful and interesting essays for me were when he was writing about more the literature and the writing process. Whenever he discusses his former job at a nuclear plant, it is rather interesting and funny. More importantly, it is impossible to read what Pratchett writes (or says in interviews for that matter) about the right to die and not think about the issue (or about health care in general). It isn’t because of who he is, but because of how he writes about it. His essay about a drug will have you spitting in disbelief and anger, regardless of where you live. Considering the debates that swirl around the issue, it is important to consider all sides, and Pratchett is a far more effective speaker than some others, most likely because he isn’t grandstanding. Honestly, read “I’m Slipping Away a Bit at a Time . . . and All I Can Do Is Watch It Happen” and “Death Knocked and We Let Him In” and tell me you weren’t affected. I double dog dare you.

And the rage, you can feel the rage. You can feed off of his rage in some of the essays. And that’s good because we need that kick in the bum.

So break out the Banana Daiquiris and enjoy.

Profile Image for Kalin.
Author 71 books258 followers
December 31, 2019
While Terry's short fiction doesn't do much for me (I think he needs longer forms to really shine), this non-fiction collection regaled me with laughs and thoughts worthy of further thinking. Here're some of them:

~ Neil Gaiman really nails it in the intro:

But beneath any jollity, there is a foundation of fury. Terry Pratchett is not one to go gentle into any night, good or otherwise. He will rage, as he leaves, against so many things: stupidity, injustice, human foolishness and shortsightedness, not just the dying of the light, although that’s here, too. And, hand in hand with the anger, like an angel and a demon walking hand in hand into the sunset, there is love: for human beings, in all our fallibility; for treasured objects; for stories; and ultimately and in all things, love for human dignity.
Or to put it another way, anger is the engine that drives him, but it is the greatness of spirit that deploys that anger on the side of the angels, or better yet for all of us, the orangutans.

I felt the same especially strongly when I read Soul Music.

~ Ehehe (from "How to Be a Professional Boxer"):

I’ve never had occasion to use one magnificent tip from a well-known author, but I pass it on anyway: “Keep an eye on the trade press. When an editor moves on, immediately send your precious MS to his or her office, with a covering letter addressed to said departed editor. Say, in the tones of one engaged in a cooperative effort, something like this: ‘Dear X, I was very pleased to receive your encouraging letter indicating your interest in my book, and I have made all the changes you asked for.…’ Of course they won’t find the letter. Publishers can never find anything. But at least someone might panic enough to read the MS.”

~ Fantasy on the nose:

Fantasy should present the familiar in a new light—I try to do that on Discworld. It’s a way of looking at the here and now, not the there and then. Fantasy is the Ur-literature, from which everything else sprang—which is why my knuckles go white when toe-sucking literary critics dismiss it as “genre trash.” And, at its best, it is truly escapist.
But the point about escaping is that you should escape to, as well as from. You should go somewhere worthwhile, and come back the better for the experience.

(Interestingly, Николай Теллалов expressed a similar sentiment about "escaping to.")

~ "Let There Be Dragons" is another, even more fully-fledged defence explanation of fantasy. I can't pick a single excerpt to quote. Just go for the whole thing.

~ And humor:

Laughter can get through the keyhole while seriousness is still hammering on the door. New ideas can ride in on the back of a joke; old ideas can be given an added edge.

Versus humorlessness:

We look around and see foreign policies that are little more than the taking of revenge for the revenge that was taken in revenge for the revenge last time.

There were fights at school over the question of whether or not Batman could fly. Those of us who said he couldn’t were in the minority and, therefore, got beaten up by the thick kids. But, hahaha, it wasn’t us who broke limbs by jumping out of their bedroom windows. Shouting “Batmaaagh!” on the way down didn’t work, did it …

Hahaha indeed. :)

~ From "The God Moment":

(...) I’ve never disliked religion. I think it has some purpose in our evolution. I don’t have much truck with the “religion is the cause of most of our wars” school of thought, because in fact that’s manifestly done by mad, manipulative, and power-hungry men who cloak their ambition in God.
I number believers of all sorts among my friends. Some of them are praying for me. I’m happy that they wish to do this, I really am, but I think science may be a better bet.
So what shall I make of the voice that spoke to me recently as I was scuttling around getting ready for yet another spell on a chat show sofa? More accurately it was the memory of a voice in my head, and it told me that everything was okay and things were happening as they should. For a moment, the world had felt at peace. Where did it come from?
Me, actually—the part of all of us that, in my case, caused me to stand in awe the first time I heard Thomas Tallis’s Spem in alium, and the elation I felt on a walk one day last February, when the light of the setting sun turned a ploughed field into shocking pink; I believe it’s what Abraham felt on the mountain and Einstein did when it turned out that E=mc^2.
It’s that moment, that brief epiphany when the universe opens up and shows us something, and in that instant we get just a sense of an order greater than heaven and, as yet at least, beyond the grasp of Hawking. It doesn’t require worship, but, I think, rewards intelligence, observation, and inquiring minds. I don’t think I’ve found God but I may have seen where gods come from.

I'm not at a stage where I can tackle this topic properly, but it always amazes me what roadblocks people can raise when they cling to the notion that God is something/someone entirely separate from us. (I'm a panentheist.) At the same time, it's just as amazing when this notion of separation lifts, even for an instant, and we "hear" "our~God's" voice. Have you felt that? :)

~ Terry's appeal in "The Orangutans Are Dying"--expectedly--struck a chord with me. The essay is from the year 2000--just before I started doing whatever I can to help restore the balance. I wonder how many of its readers were moved to act. (Or: what do one's words matter?)

~ Kudos for having the strength to treat your diagnosis (posterior cortical atrophy, a form of Alzheimer's) like this:

I have the opposite of a superpower; sometimes, I cannot see what is there. I see the teacup with my eyes, but my brain refuses to send me the teacup message. It’s very Zen. First there is no teacup and then, because I know there is a teacup, the teacup will appear the next time I look.

~ This came as a surprise:

(...) despite the fact that there is no scriptural objection [to suicide], the prohibition came about in the fourteenth century when, because of religious wars and the Black Death, people were committing suicide on the basis that, well, since this world was now so dreadfully unpleasant then maybe it would be a good idea to make an attempt on heaven. Authority thought otherwise and objected. Who would milk the cows? Who would fight the wars? People couldn’t be allowed to slope off like that. They had to stay and face their just punishment for being born.

I'd thought the Christian "mortal sin" status of suicide was older. Wikipedia seems to confirm it wasn't in the Bible.
Profile Image for Eilonwy.
814 reviews201 followers
March 2, 2015

This collection of essays covers Terry Pratchett's entire career, from before he even started writing the Discworld novels up through now, when he's possibly even more famous as an advocate for Death with Dignity.

I personally enjoyed the first half of the book the most, with his discussions of writing, touring, and attending conferences. It was fun to see what his working days look like, and comforting to see how anxious he stayed about writing *enough* even as he was selling loads of books.

The last third is very weighty stuff, as it focuses on his diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer's disease, his fight for equal access to treatment in the UK for people under 65, and his ongoing push to allow terminally ill people the right to choose the time of their own death.

The essays do get a little repetitive when you read them all in a row, but they were all interesting and enjoyable. If you like Terry Pratchett's novels, you'll probably enjoy this book.
Profile Image for Dave Schaafsma.
Author 6 books31.2k followers
January 9, 2016
I am not a Pratchett fan, not yet! My wife and my sister-in-law are making their way through the whole corpus. So it's sort of odd I picked this up, in part thanks to a review by Sam Quixote that pointed me to his writing about assisted suicide. I had thought of Pratchett as a fantasy writer and humorist, a jolly elf writing in the mode of other funny fantasy writers such as Douglas Adams. Been there, done that, and I enjoyed that ride, but I had no particular interest in going back in that direction, really.

So this is a collection of essays that span Pratchett's career, focusing on his life as a writer, traveling the globe, writing about various topics. His "Days of Rage" section really began to draw me in, in particular, though. Pratchett was diagnosed in his fifties with Alzheimers, so he began writing angrily and insightfully and often movingly about this. These essays were for me the best part of the book, and you know, just might lead me into his Discworld!
Profile Image for Margaret.
Author 12 books85 followers
November 2, 2016
A collection of articles, speeches, columns etc from the late, very great, Sir Terry Pratchett.

The collection provoked thoughts, laughter, and tears in equal measure.

A great man; a great writer gone far too soon.
Profile Image for Althea Ann.
2,232 reviews997 followers
October 12, 2014
An absolute must for all Terry Pratchett fans, and an interesting read for just about anyone.

This is a collection of, it seems, pretty much everything that Pratchett's published that isn't fiction.

It's divided thematically into three sections. The first focuses on thoughts on writing and the writing process. The second is more autobiographical material. The third has to do with Pratchett's early-onset Alzheimers and his advocacy for the right-to-die cause. (And then, it finishes up with a little bit of humor; I guess the editors didn't want to end on a down note.)

The first two sections are probably of specific interest to those familiar with Pratchett's work. The third definitely has a more general appeal, and gives an insight into the perspective of someone with an incurable disease who wants the legal right to be able to choose the time and manner of their passing, with dignity.

The main flaw I found in the book was not with any of the brief pieces included here individually, but rather with the effect of reading them all sequentially. Pratchett is clearly a man with 'pet' ideas and favorite quotes, who uses every given opportunity to air them. While there isn't a problem with this in practice, when all his speeches, introductions, and such are set end-to-end, it begins to feel a bit repetitive. The volume would probably be better enjoyed in small segments - reading an essay every now and again.

Favorite quote:
"You want fantasy? here's one... There's this species that lives on a planet a few miles above molten rock and a few miles below a vacuum that'd suck the air right out of them. They live in a brief geological period between ice ages, when giant asteroids have temporarily stopped smacking into the surface. As far as they can tell, there's nowhere else in the universe where they could stay alive for ten seconds.
And what do they call their fragile little slice of space and time? They call it real life. In a universe where it's known that whole galaxies can explode, they think there's things like "natural justice" and "destiny." Some of them even believe in democracy..."

And, as a librarian, I am, from here on out, going to take Pratchett's suggestion, and call myself by the title of "Shining Acolyte of the Sacred Flame of Literacy in a Dark and Encroaching Universe."

Many thanks to NetGalley for providing me the opportunity to read this book. As always, my opinions are solely my own.
Profile Image for Laura.
1,127 reviews118 followers
July 28, 2021
Begins and ends with rage. The rage of a man who knows we should better, and knows we aren’t. I read it in two breathless sittings, reading large passages out loud to my husband and my dogs.

He could have structured this book to leave me warm and comfortable, delighted that there is another humanist out there, and one who can speak such poetry. He didn’t.

Well worth the time.
Profile Image for Chris.
720 reviews98 followers
July 28, 2015
I’ve come late to Pratchett’s writings. I had tried some comic fantasy and sci-fi and found it wanting; it mostly seemed to be trying too hard to be funny and witty. I enjoyed Red Dwarf on TV and Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy on the radio but somehow on the page much of this genre writing seemed to consist of dull, lifeless things, full of their own cleverness. So, despite everyone saying I ought to try Pratchett, that I’d like his stuff, I resisted it. Perhaps it was the cover illustrations that put me off: “This is a wickedly weird funny book!” they seemed to scream at me.

I recently finally took the plunge. Somehow the Piaf song Je ne regrette rien now rings a little hollow…

Where the fiction of his that I’ve read so far speaks of a man with his heart in the right place, A Slip of the Keyboard confirms that this heart could have been a twin of mine. We share much — the same birth year, a beard (not the same one, obviously), baldness, an irreligious spiritual inclination, anger directed at injustice, a love of words and a sense of the ridiculous — but sadly Pratchett surpassed me in terms of creativity, hard work, more creativity and more hard work. Where he was awesome, I am plain awful. And he suited hats, which I never have.

More than that, he was funny. “I don’t actually believe in magic any more than I believe in astrology, because I’m a Taurean and we don’t go in for all that weirdo occult stuff,” he wrote in 1985. (Even though I’m a Virgoan, I agree with that; the ability to suspend disbelief in magic through one’s writing, which Pratchett displays amply, is one I admire, relish, and envy.) On the page it works; and, as this collection of non-fiction suggests, when he addressed conventions or award ceremonies his spoken words had the same power.

So, this book. Pratchett’s miscellaneous musings range from 1963 (a letter to Vector, the magazine of the British Science Fiction Association) to 2011, four years before his death. The first and largest section is entitled ‘A Scribbling Intruder’ and mostly includes reflections on fantasy writing, wizards, computers and … hats, though there are also pieces on boxing and his friend Neil Gaiman for example. Virtually all are characterised by the wonderful blend of humour, common sense and the ridiculousness of everyday life. Much the same applies to ‘A Twit and a Dreamer’, though the subjects range more widely, from childhood to the existence or not of a Deity.

The tone changes with ‘Days of Rage’. Neil Gaiman’s introduction had already alluded to Pratchett’s anger: “There is a fury to Terry Pratchett’s writing […] anger at the headmaster who would decide that six-year-old Terry Pratchett would never be smart enough for the 11-plus [secondary school examination]; anger at pompous critics, and at those who think that serious is the opposite of funny, anger at his early American publishers who could not bring his books out successfully.” And that anger extended to testing in schools, the plight of the orangutans in their shrinking forests in Borneo, the injuries inflicted on the National Health Service in Britain, taxes, his early onset Alzheimer’s Disease (Posterior Cortical Atrophy, since you ask) and the legal sanction against assisted dying.

A history master at my school in the 60s showed us Ingmar Bergman’s Seventh Seal, with its unremitting monochrome view of life and death, and its powerful images stayed with me while the overall storyline faded into obscurity. Pratchett had a similar epiphany when, “playing on the floor of my grandmother’s front room, I glanced up at the television and saw Death, talking to a Knight, […] with a scythe and an amiable manner”. Ever since then the image remained with him, and Death started appearing in his Discworld novels, becoming “one of its most popular characters”. And, of course, Death famously appeared in Sir Terry’s final tweets:

Terry took Death’s arm and followed him through the doors and on to the black desert under the endless night.
The End.

How would the author like to be remembered? Should we harbour morbid thoughts about his passing, focus on the issues that roused his ire, or should we relish his vision of life as something of wonder, sometimes profound but more often ridiculous? I’d like to imagine it’s a bit of everything, characterised by his suggestion of ‘Things to Order Loudly in Restaurants':
1) Liver with bigger tubes
2) Whitebait with extra eyes
3) Smorgasbord with the tops on

Here it all is encapsulated: dead things; pompous authority that needs to be brought down a peg or two; and a different way of looking at things. I’m grateful for that legacy of around fifty titles that I have yet to explore.

Profile Image for Nicky.
4,138 reviews1,004 followers
September 10, 2015
This is a collection of Terry Pratchett’s non-fictional writing, including talks, articles, introductions and opinion pieces. It does include ‘Shaking Hands With Death’ as well, if you wanted to read that without actually buying the separate book with it in; this is technically better value for money, if you’re interested in all of the pieces. Most of them are interesting; one or two are odd without context — I haven’t read Nation recently enough, for example, to really appreciate his commentary on the writing of it, and the stage adaptation that was made.

If you’ve made the mistake of thinking of Sir Pratchett as like some ‘jolly old elf’, then Neil Gaiman’s introduction will begin to separate you from that notion, and then Pratchett’s own words will add to it. He had a burning anger which drove him in his writing and his activism, an anger at things that were wrong, an anger at the disease that was taking away parts of himself. He writes about that movingly several times; other essays talk about reading, learning, writing, the oddnesses of being an author…

I enjoyed reading it, though it’s not something I can see myself reading again. Worth it for the clear-eyed view on assisted dying and the kind of legislation we need on that.

Originally posted here.
Profile Image for J.
275 reviews3 followers
August 30, 2014
Note: free galley received via Amazon Vine program in exchange for honest review.

If you're a fan of Pratchett's books, A Slip of the Keyboard is the type of book that you'll want for background purposes. The first two sections in particular provide eye opening insight into his childhood and younger writing years as well as his thoughts on writing and what makes fantasy interesting. If you're looking for writing advice, there's a surprising amount of that mixed in too if you're reading closely. While I love the book and the author, I did struggle a bit through the last section, not because it was badly written, but because of the content. After two generally lighter toned sections, hearing about his struggles with Alzheimer's and his championing of assisted death was a bit, well, hard. Necessary, but difficult nonetheless. He explains his views eloquently and with a humanity that I often find those who are most faced with their own humanity can really best explore.

This is a solid volume of the nonfiction variety from a master of words and worlds. I was reminded of books I'd read and shelved and want to pick them up anew. I was enlightened, heartened, and encouraged that there is a person just waiting to explore the world in all of us. This book also made me want to pick up a pen and begin writing, even if it is some story once thought abandoned. Pratchett's humor and humanity are on display in an unfamiliar way, but what better way to get a peek into his life than through his nonfiction?
Profile Image for Roxana Chirilă.
965 reviews122 followers
August 10, 2018
"A Slip of the Keyboard" is a collection of articles and speeches sir Pterry wrote and published over the years. The themes vary from writing, to discovering science fiction at a young age in the most unlikely of places, to a Situation at the nuclear power plant which involved sewers, radioactivity and a lot of horrified people (but no disasters, thankfully), and finally Alzheimer's and assisted death.

...there are plenty of people out there who do their jobs well (maybe exceedingly so), but who aren't really the sort you'd look up to. With Terry Pratchett, however, you can love his books and look up to the man in the same measure - or, if you don't like his style, there's still something you can like about the man.

It isn't that he's kind, or cheerful, or positive. Neil Gaiman once said people think of him as a jolly man because of his humor, but he's actually angry, and that anger is powerful, deep, and drives him forward. It's anger put to its best use, that of an engine to make you go forward and change the world.

(If you want, read this in past tense; Terry Pratchett might be physically dead, but he's still capable of touching those who are alive though what he left behind. So, in a sense, he is still with us.)

"A Slip of the Keyboard" made me laugh, and it made me sad, and it made me feel that it's okay to be very, very angry at the world sometimes, because there's a lot to be angry at. And what you do with that anger is that you enjoy life as much as you can, you do things well, and you can maybe be brilliant, if you allow yourself be so.

(And did I mention the story with the nuclear power plant in which the security system is sabotaged by a minute's laziness? Oh, that's a good one.)
Profile Image for Tatiana Shorokhova.
274 reviews98 followers
September 8, 2019
Я видела сэра Терри в начале нулевых. Более того, я говорила с ним, и даже взяла у него автограф. Два. Когда я подсовывала ему вторую фотографию, распечатанную дома на цветном принтере (дурацкую, с уточкой на голове), Пратчетт сощурил глаза и сказал: «Продавать будешь?» Я офигела, потому что автограф брала для своей знакомой из другого города. Ну и вообще; как можно продавать автографы? Потом, конечно, узнала, как.

Сборник эссе одного из лучших авторов мира напомнит, что он был журналистом, пиарщиком на атомной электростанции, но прежде всего - запойным чтецом. Пратчетт с огромной любовью пишет про книги, про фэнтези, фантастику, а это напоминает мне, за что я так люблю его книги. За любовь к своим персонажам и за потрясающий слог.

При этом тексты в сборнике написаны очень просто: все же в умении просто рассказывать о сложном есть какой-то невероятный шарм. Когда же дело доходит до заметок о его болезни, сэр Терри превращается в настоящего борца - пламенного, язвительного и очень убедительного.

Мне его ужасно не хватает.
Profile Image for bfilbeck.
87 reviews
August 20, 2014
This collection of some of Terry Pratchett's non-fiction writing provides his fans (every reader who has ever read one of Terry's books) with an intimate look at the workings of his mind. He offers up his views on writing, gods, his Alzheimer's diagnosis, and a variety of other topics that give us the feeling that we have been his long time personal friends.

This is an absolute "Must Read" if you are a Terry Pratchett fan! If you are not (yet) one of his fans, read one of his Discworld books first and then you can really enjoy this one.
Profile Image for Melissa McShane.
Author 57 books733 followers
November 8, 2016
This collection of short pieces by Terry Pratchett is fun, if not particularly thrilling--but then, it's more or less what I expected, so I'm calling it a win. There's some repetition of content because these are essays and letters written at various times for various purposes, but, again, it's the nature of the beast. I especially liked his description of searching for frankincense at Christmastime in Bristol and the story of casting a honeycomb and bees in gold. I dipped into this now and again over the course of a week, and it was well worth the time spent. (I also managed to splash it with teriyaki sauce while cooking dinner. Reading and cooking rarely go well together.)
Profile Image for Maryna Ponomaryova.
466 reviews28 followers
August 23, 2018
Ця книга безпорадно висіла в мене в «до прочитання» так довго, і нарешті випав шанс її купити, що я і зробила завдяки долі, яка навіть люб’язно дозволила обрати між hardback і paperback. Що ж, доля чудово мене розуміє, бо ця книга моя на віки, я нікому її не віддам. Читаючи рядки, написані улюбленим письменником, наче опиняєшся з ним на веранді просторого англійського маєтку, і ведеш за чашечкою чаю повільну розмову про все на світі. Книгу поділено на три частини – письменницькі пригоди (від перших книг, до світових book tours, до процесу письменства), спогади дитинства-юності, і «days of rage», записи щодо соціальних проблем, таких як ставлення суспільства до Альцгеймера, евтаназії, та винищування природного ареалу орангутангів. У передмові від Ніла Геймана сказано, що Террі Пратчетт не «той кумедний чоловічок у капелюсі» яким ми його собі уявляємо – він концентрована лють проти системи, проти невігластва, проти жорстокості, водночас сповнена любові до гуманності. Це й видно, коли гуляєш цими рядками, і дізнаєшся більше про думки і світ Террі Пратчетта з його ж вуст. А також і про ставлення до капелюхів.


I developed the habit of starting a book on the same day as I’d finished the last one. There was one period where I had a schedule of four hundred finished words a day. If I could finish the book in three hundred words, I wrote a hundred words of the next book. No excuses. Granddad died, go to funeral, four hundred words. Christmas time, nip our after dinner, four hundred words.


I do recall that Salman Rushdie came second in a science fiction writing competition in the late 1970s. Just image if he’d won – he would have had none of that trouble over Satanic Verses, ‘cos it would have been SF and therefore unimportant.


So, apparently, I’m a post-modern fantasy writer. I think this is because I’ve got a condom machine in Ankh-Morpork. […] But you cannot imagine a condom machine in Middle-earth. Well, actually, I can, regrettably. But you certainly can’t imagine one in Narnia, and nor should you. But the curious thing is Ankh-Morpork can survive this. Ankh-Morpork can survive most things.


People really do ask: where do you get your ideas from? […] ‘From a warehouse in Croydon’ is only funny once.


Many of them have this in common, though: they express doubts that the author will read the letter, let alone answer it. The letter in an act of faith. It’s as though they’ve put a message in a bottle and tossed it into the sea. But… Well, when I was young, I wrote a letter to J. R. R. Tolkien, just as he was becoming extravagantly famous. […] Mine must have been among hundreds or thousands of letters he received every week. I got a reply. It might have been dictated. For all I know, it might have been typed to a format. But it was signed. […] For a moment, it achieved the most basic and treasured of human communications: you are real, and therefore so am I.


[On writing fantasy.] You are allowed to make pigs fly, but you must take into account the depredations on the local bird life and the need for people in heavily over-flown areas to carry stout umbrellas at all times.


[On a badly written fantasy book]. That’s not fantasy – that’s just Tolkien reheated until the magic boils away.


J. R. R. Tolkien has become a sort of mountain, appearing in all subsequent fantasy in the way Mt Fuji appears so often in Japanese prints. Sometimes it’s big and up close. Sometimes it’s a shape on the horizon. Sometimes it’s not there at all, which means that the artist either has made a deliberate decision against the mountain, which is interesting in itself, or is in fact standing on Mt Fuji.


I have always treasured having one of my novels named an Amelia Bloomer Book by the feminist task force of the ALA, because there is something heart-warming about a man with a beard receiving accolades for strong feminist writing.


Science fiction certainly predicted the age of computers. [...] But what took us by surprise was that the people using the computers were not, in fact, shiny new people, but the same dumb old human beings that there have always been. They didn’t – much – want to use the technology to get educated. They wanted to look at porn, play games, steal things, and chat.


There is a rumor going around that I have found God. I think this is unlikely because I have enough difficulty finding my keys, and there is empirical evidence that they exist.


Twice, when I have spoken out on subjects like Alzheimer’s and assisted dying, helpful Christians have told me that I should try considering my affliction as a gift from God. Now, personally I would have preferred a box of chocolates.


It is a strange life when you ‘come out’. People get embarrassed, lower their voices, get lost for words. Part of the report I’m helping to launch today reveals that fifty percent of Britons think there is a stigma surrounding dementia. Onl y twenty-five per cent think there is still a stigma associated with cancer.


[On Alzheimer] Before you can kill the monster you have to say its name.


We should aim for a good and rich life well lived, and at the end of it, in the comfort of our own home, in the company of those who love us, have a death worth dying for.
Profile Image for Ezgi Şenel.
Author 2 books23 followers
August 10, 2020
Terry Pratchett ile tanışma kitabım onun engin yazma tecrübesini paylaştığı bu kitapla oldu. İnsanların yazma rutinlerini veya geçmişlerini kaleme nasıl yansıttıklarını okumayı seviyorum. Besleyici ve motive edici bir etkisi olduğuna inanıyorum. Sör Terry eğlenceli bir kimlik, bir gün Diskdünya’yı da okumak isterim. Ama bunun dışında hayatla mücadelesini ve elde ettiği başarıyı şaşkınlıkla karşılamasını epey sevdim. Sanki bir yanlışlık varmış gibi bir hisle tek bildiği eylem olan yazmak ve okumaya devam edişini gözlemek heyecandı. Onu yazmaya teşvik eden unsurun temelde okumak olduğunu söylemek yanlış olmaz. Bulduğu her şeyi okuyarak geçirdiği çocukluk döneminin etkilerini tahmini ölümüne kadar taşımıştı.

Muhteşem bir hayal gücüne sahip arsız bir hayalperestten bahsediyoruz. İnsanlığın gördüğünü başka bir forma sokmak konusunda üzerine yok. Yazdıklarını okumayı bu yüzden çok istiyorum. Bununla birlikte iyi bir okur olması sebebiyle önerileri ve etrafına dair gözlemleri de hayli işlevli gibi duruyor. Katıldığı fuarlar, gazete yazıları bu kitapta çok daha fazlası mevcut.

Ölüme dair kaleme aldıkları Öfkeli Günler başlığı altında karşımıza çıkıyor. Alzheimer hastalığına yakalandığını öğrendikten sonra hem hastalıkla hem de İngiltere’deki sağlık hizmetlerinin sınırlarıyla mücadelesi takip etmeye değerdi. İlacın temini için konan yaş sınırıyla başlayan bu savaş ötenazi hakkıyla ilgili paylaşımlarla devam etti. Daha önce üzerine uzun uzun düşünmediğim bu konuda bana da düşünecek birçok şey verdi yazar. Yazacak, düşünecek ve üzerine konuşacak birçok öneriyle bu kitabı tamamlamaktan mutluyum.
Profile Image for Michael.
258 reviews40 followers
November 23, 2014
Terry Pratchett is a treasure and this collection of his newspaper articles, speeches, letters-to-the-editor and the like just reinforces his status. While there is humor throughout, from his early newspaper articles as a journalist in the late 60's & 70's to his stint doing PR for various nuclear power stations in England in the 80's - the 'Discworld' series is represented too, of course - but Pratchett really shines with discussions from 2007 onward about his early-onset Alzheimer's, the stigma some associate with the disease and Pratchett's fight in seeing that those who need care for Alzheimer's are able to find it. And I still haven't mentioned his thoughtful pieces on "assisted dying" for those with terminal illnesses.

A must-read.
Profile Image for Margaret.
1,105 reviews56 followers
March 15, 2015
I finished this last night, after the news of Terry Pratchett's death. I'd been reading it for a couple weeks and had about 40 pages left--the pages dealing with how he wished to die. These pages should've upset me, but they didn't. Instead, I feel blessed to have read him, to have had my Uncle Jim insist I borrow the Witches' series when I was seventeen, or nineteen, or fifteen. Thank you Terry Pratchett--I bow to your wit and fun and wisdom. The world, I think, is a little bit better with your novels in it.
Profile Image for Dorin Lazăr.
385 reviews84 followers
February 17, 2019
„A slip of the keyboard” is a collection of speeches of Mr. Pratchett, usually on writing and how people perceive his work; however a large portion of this book is not dedicated to the jolly old man Pratchett might feel like if you read his work, but to his fight with Alzheimer's and his fight for the right to assisted death.

The more fun you have with the first part of the collection, the harder the hammer will fall with the articles from the final part. It's a topic hard to swallow, and it feels so... unfair, I guess.

The first part of the book is somewhat repetitive - the book feels more like a not-so-well-thought collection of random artifacts from the past, but the discourse of Mr. Pratchett is worth it. There is no concept, I feel, and no author involvement in the collection, and that makes the whole collection somewhat dry. However, it's a must-have for any fan of Mr. Pratchett's work and inspiring attitude.
Profile Image for Julie.
1,863 reviews38 followers
August 21, 2021
Quite simply, I loved every minute I was reading this book and 'hearing' Terry Pratchett's voice in my head. Sometimes it was downright funny such as, reading about airport food being all "lard balls and salt licks," then, there were the very engaging chapters on fantasy, reading and/or writing it, and then there were serious end-of-life discussions, about which, Pratchett surmises: "Life is easy and cheap to make. But the things we add to it, such as pride, self-respect, and human dignity, are worthy of preservation, too, and these can be lost in a fetish for life at any cost."

I loved the story that illustrates a "loyalist arrangement," as a "dynamic accord." The local shepherds where Pratchett lived used to be buried with a piece of wool to remind God that those times they couldn't attend church were due to their commitment to their ewes. They were acting as good shepherds and taking care of their flock and they believed God, as the Good Shepherd, would understand and pardon them. As Pratchett wrote, "So much of Discworld has come from odd serendipitous discoveries like that."

Pratchett wrote about receiving a response to his letter to J.R.R. Tolkien: "For a moment, it achieved the most basic and treasured of human communications: you are real, and therefore so am I." Pondering this thought helped him to gain perspective on the value of corresponding with people that wrote to him in response to his books.

I enjoyed the chapter on how to write fantasy and learned that "G.K. Chesterton summed up fantasy as the art of taking that which is humdrum and everyday (and therefore unseen) and picking it up and showing it to us from an unfamiliar direction, so that we see it anew with fresh eyes." As children, we take everything literally and believe what we are told, however as we learn to question, we can imagine further and develop our ideas into new stories, or twists on old ones.

"It [fantasy] is the compost for a healthy mind. It stimulates the inquisitive nodes [...] there is some evidence that a rich internal fantasy life is as good and necessary for a child as healthy soil is for a plant, for much the same reasons."

As every reader knows and has experienced during their lifetime of reading, "sometimes things all come together at the right time in the right place - book, author, style, subject, and reader." For Pratchett, this book was The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien and "The moment was magic."

I love that Pratchett "can remember exactly where and when [he] was when [he] first read J.R.R. Tolkien." Without a doubt, Tolkien's writing was incredibly important to him, as he writes, "The Lord of the Rings was a step-change in my reading. I was already enjoying it, but The Lord of the Rings opened me up to the rest of the library."

Finally, I loved that Pratchett loved libraries. It was a librarian at his local library that first handed him the life-changing The Lord of the Rings to read, and he suggests that librarians are "Shining Acolytes of the Sacred Flame of Literacy in a Dark and Encroaching Universe."

"It's all been done in fun, folks." Yes, really, he wrote for the sheer fun of it.

Profile Image for Nigel.
789 reviews85 followers
November 30, 2015
I guess something I've known about Terry Pratchett for years is that he is an outstanding wordsmith. He simply writes so well. Equally he is a wonderful observer of humans and the "human condition" rather more widely. This books offers some wonderfully acerbic humour - the Australian book signing tour and the attack of the Uzi is marvellous. However this book also ranges widely on writing, what fantasy actually is, books and their readers and death both the Discworld variety and actual death.

I simply loved it - even the less riveting articles were short enough to not bother me - and I'd recommend it to anyone with an interest in Pratchett, humour, fantasy, Discworld or the lives we lead (that's everyone then.
Profile Image for Peter.
777 reviews114 followers
June 16, 2016
This beautfiul book hurts. Why? Because I spoke with Terry on Numerous occasions and helped to organise and set up some signing sessions. He recognised my brother at an event although they had never met before and I wasn't there!

The end of this book hurt and I miss the old sod...


Profile Image for Martyn Stanley.
Author 14 books186 followers
October 4, 2017
First of all, this was a fantastic read. When I started it, it was really hard to put down. I ended up putting it down for a bit, partly because I didn't want to finish it. I suppose it's perhaps the fact that this will probably be the last Terry Pratchett book I read. Yes, I read The Long Earth but it wasn't a pure Pratchett book and though I WILL read on, I'm in no major rush to.

I've always admired Terry Pratchett's writing. The Colour of Magic was really the seed my second wind of 'love of reading'. When I was much younger I read a lot of Stephen King I also read lots of random things, but he was the first author I really followed. Terry Pratchett was the second, but when I started reading the Discworld, I more or less stopped reading anything else if there was a Discworld Novel to be read. I can remember buying several Discworld novels and reading them cover to cover in one night. Starting when I got home from school and finishing in the middle of the night, possibly part way through Doctor Terror's Vault of Horror, which was on a Friday Night when I was about 13 and a mad-keen Discworld reader.

Reading A Slip of the Keyboard: Collected Non-Fiction in some ways has made me sad. Not for the late Sir Terry Pratchett, but for me. I know Stephen King, I've read a lot of what he has to say on writing and on life in general. I like him! However reading this, has allowed me to get to know Sir Terry Pratchett much better. You get to know him quite intimately reading this book. Having read it, I really wish I'd known him. We have a very similar attitude to certain aspects of life, a similar philosophy and a similar sense of humour - though I certainly don't have the wit or intellect of Pratchett. Perhaps one of the reasons I DO share his sense of humour is the fact that I read so much of his humour during my formative years. Nonetheless, irrespective of his fame, wealth or the fact that he's written some of my favourite books, he was a guy who I would have really enjoyed getting to know.

He starts the book talking about how he got into writing and how much harder it was in those days TO get into writing and I think he was right. When he later goes into his early reading habits you start to understand how he cultivated such a refined sense of humour and boundless intellect. I think his suggestion that Discworld was so popular because it was essentially Anti-fantasy, at least in the normal sense, was probably true too.

What you get from reading this book is a picture of Sir Terry's deep, deep understanding of people and unshakable groundedness. His views on wealth and becoming rich could serve a lesson to any successful person. He seems to have always remained grounded to his roots and to have kept his feet firmly on the floor. He doesn't talk much about his family, but you can read in between the lines - he understood the importance of family.

His many tales of giving speeches and receiving awards are as illuminating as the speeches he gave. This is a very human book. He takes you along with him to some major events in his life and lays his soul bare. There is also a steady trickle of the subtle, yet sharp 'Pratchett Wit' throughout.

Despite the light-hearted humour and wise advice, this book DOES have a dark side. It would have been impossible to write a book about the life of Sir Terry Pratchett (even FOR Sir Terry Pratchett), without addressing his PCA, his early death and his attitude towards the right to die.

It's a sadder part of the book, because we see in HIS battles with the onset of PCA, or Early Onset Azheimer's - our own mortality. Our own frailty. He prolongs diagnosis by making excuses because of his age. He assumes his growing failings are simply due to age and he learns to cope. When he does fully appreciate what is happening he thinks about his father's death - at the hands of pancreatic cancer. I often struggle to appreciate humanist writing on the meaning of life and the acceptance of death. Personally I like living and would give my soul (if I believed I had one) to be able to live in good health indefinitely. Of course we all die, it's how we live that matters, and I don't think any lived bette than Sir Terry Prattchett. Even to the end he was writing and working on his passion. I even wonder, if after all the talk of assisted suicide he chose to end his own life at the point where he could no longer write. That's only my speculation, but I completely agree with his viewpoint on assisted suicide.

During the later parts of the book he talks about the challenges of living with PCA and makes an impassioned plea to consider a fair and structured way to legally allow assisted suicide in the UK. I completely agree with him too. We put our pets down to end their suffering, but we force our relatives to live in agony? Is that humane?

I've long agreed with Sir Terry Pratchett on the assisted suicide debate. The law needs to change and it needs to change NOW. We're getting better and better at keeping people technically alive, but we seem to have forgotten to slow down and ask ourselves whether we SHOULD be keeping people alive? Many brits cut their lives short by making the trip to Dignitas while they are still able to make the journey, because they don't trust the legal system in the UK. That is WRONG. We should be able to trust the legal system not to prosecute our relatives for carrying out our wishes.

Throughout this sad, later part of the book, Sir Terry often talks about dying in his favourite chair, in the garden, with a glass of brandy in his hand. (Or in the library if it's raining.) He doesn't fear death, he fears the horrible state he might end up in if he is forced to endure life as long as possible. You can tell, he doesn't want to die, but he accepts it. He wants a good death. I think he's had a good life, I sincerely hope he got his wish and had a good death too.

Right now, I would say this is one of my favourite books of all time. I will read it again. I've never felt like I missed someone I'd never met as much as I did after reading this. I wish I'd known Sir Terry Pratchett, but reading this book is as close as I will ever get.

Paperback:- http://amzn.to/2wy5pDs
Kindle Edition:- http://amzn.to/2xRn5Oy

Martyn Stanley
Author of:-
The Last Dragon Slayer (Free to download)
Profile Image for Книжни Криле.
2,797 reviews151 followers
October 12, 2019
Много след като хората са открили, че Земята не е плоска и дълго преди част от тях да решат отново, напук на науката, че тя е такава, имало едно необикновено място. То станало известно като Светът на диска. Намирало се върху четири слона. Те пък от своя страна балансирали върху корубата на огромна костенурка. Тя пък се носела из вселената… А вселената била в главата на един-единствен човек, превърнал се в литературна икона за няколко поколения читатели. Човекът вече не е сред нас, но наследството му няма да бъде забравено никога. Сега сборник с негови есета излиза за първи път на български език от изд. „Сиела”. Великолепната „Клавиатурна грешка” е не точно автобиография, не точно мемоари, но пък и Пратчет никога не се е вписвал в конвенционалните жанрови граници. Прочетете ревюто на "Книжни Криле": https://knijnikrile.wordpress.com/201...
Profile Image for [ J o ].
1,934 reviews425 followers
February 9, 2017
Sir Terry Pratchett OBE died on the 12th of March, 2015, at the age of 66 from a rare form of Alzheimers. He wrote over 40 novels and was the creator of one of the greatest fictional worlds; Discworld.

When I was 12 I read my first Discworld and I hated it. It was The Colour of Magic and, from memory, the reason I hated it was because it had the word "bastard" on the first few pages. To me now, this is absurd. The first thing I do when I wake up is swear, usually one of the worst ones (ones much worse than "bastard"), and so my memory of this first read is tinged with confusion and humour.

I left them alone for nearly ten years, until a good friend of mine suggested I try them again. I don't recall which one I tried in my second attempt but, after being given almost all the books second-hand by a University friend, I devoured them wholly and without chewing and spat out an unadulterated obsession with the Discworld and Sir Terry himself.

A Slip of the Keyboard includes articles and short-essays that Terry has written, in between writing roughly two novels a year. Much like his Discworld series, they are funny, educational, insightful and very, very Human. The topics covered are as varied as the own man's interests, from Orangutans to hats and from writing and reading science fiction and fantasy to suffering and speaking up about suffering from early-onset Alzheimer's and the right to die with dignity.

Although I love this book, and will love it forever, and will re-read it more than I will re-read any other book, and have gained around thirty new books to add to my to-read pile, it has only gained four stars for the following reasons: one, the sadness I felt whilst reading a great dead man's words was overwhelming, and two, my blithe shelf is for fiction only. This is not fiction, but in heart it is five-star worthy.

It's a sad thing that this man died, but it is greater still that he lived.
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