I used to be an incredible literature snob.
Until about the age of twenty-one, I would only read real books.
“Oh me?” I would snottily opine. I’m a real Dostoevsky, Dickens, Austen, and Grass kind of girl.”
I could never understand why my boyfriend – my brilliant, cerebral and completely badass boyfriend (who now happens to be my brilliant, cerebral and completely badass husband) – read so many graphic novels, and books with picture of trolls, and dwarfs, and dragons adorning their covers.
How could he be interested in such stuff?
And despite his best efforts, for the first three years of our courtship I staunchly refused to crack one open.
“Sorry,” I would say. “I’m just not into that stuff.”
“You really have no idea what you’re talking about,” he’d say. “But I’ll wear you down eventually.”
And wear me down he did.
My first “non-book” (oh how wrong was I!), was V for Vendetta by Alan Moore which blew my brain harder than anything that had come before it (and I seriously thought I could ever again undergo anything as soul-shaking as the time I first read Devils and Crime and Punishment.) Next came the Sandman series by Neil Gaiman which I inhaled in about a day and a half, and then Watchmen, and Preacher, and about every other comic series on which I could get my hands.
It took me a little longer still to get into “fantasy” and “science fiction” (oh how I now loathe our need to classify so much brilliant literature as such!), but I finally caved and picked up A Clash of Kings a few months after my twenty-second birthday.
And once again, I underwent a kind of mind-exploding madness.
How could George R. R. Martin write so seamlessly and brilliantly from one character to the next? How could he be so heartless and beautiful all at once? WHY WERE ALL OF THESE PEOPLE SO AWFUL?
After burning through the entire Ice and Fire series (in what was then it’s most current incarnation) it was GAME. ON. The floodgates were opened, and it was nothing but a steady, raucous and ever more passionate ride filled with Bradbury, and Asimov, and Heinlein, and Tolkein, and Guy Gavriel, Scott Card, and Neal Stevenson, and Susanna Clarke, and so many more (and more and more and more!)
And then, ladies and gentlemen, Marc introduced me to one of the most brilliant, gut-busting, world-creating satirists English literature has ever known.
He brought me the world of Terry Pratchett.
This man made me laugh, cry, think, pace, question, believe, and most of all read.
My goodness did I love to get lost in his worlds and read!
To this day, I always know when Marc is (re-)reading a Pratchett book because of the sonorous laughs that all but explode out of him.
He’ll then read the offending passage aloud and we’ll both cry-laugh together. More often than not, we’ll just end up reading entire sections of the book to one another.
These truly are some of my most treasured literary memories.
And so when I found out last Thursday that Mr. Pratchett had died (via Guardian update from my mobile phone) I immediately phoned Marc to tell him the news.
I couldn’t even finish my sentence before collapsing into my tears. I sobbed straight into the receiver, my whole body wracked by a terrible, melancholy palsy.
And then, in the most Pratchett-ian of fashions, I was immediately catapulted back to laughter.
Marc, speaking slowly into the receiver, said, “This – this makes me really, really sad babe. But – unfortunately I have to go. The arborists are here.”
Because, of course, we were having the dead cherry tree removed from our backyard, and yes, at 8:13am on a Thursday morning, the arborists had arrived to facilitate that removal.
I immediately burst out laughing, even though my tears kept streaming steadily down my face.
I cried for the better part of the entire day, and I really don’t think I’ll ever get over the loss of such a brilliant, kind, compassionate, passionate, and life-changing man.
But I know that I, like the world, am so much better off for opening my mind, heart, and soul to his beautiful works, and the zany, madcap brilliance of Ankh-Morpork.
And like Marc before me, I’ll continue to encourage people to read his works.
So that they too might laugh. And cry.
But really mostly laugh. And laugh. And laugh.
2 thoughts on “Tickling your fantasy”
I’m afraid after so many years of Faulkner, Welty and all that, I really only love chick lit!
So glad you’re a proper born-again low-brow, Ethel! Long time no see, sweetie ;p