Books read in March
Jingo by Terry Pratchett
When I started rereading Jingo at the beginning of March I did not know that Terry Pratchett would pass away before I finished reading. Actually I had been reading Jingo minutes before I saw the news. Just when I was almost done I decided to take a break and check my tumblr. It turned out that I’d logged in just in time to see the breaking news.
While it had not been entirely unexpected, reading the news had still been a massive shock. That’s the thing with reading a lot of authors who have been dead for a long time. They are already gone before you start reading so you don’t need to mourn the loss of further words by a voice that has kept you company in your head for so long. Not so, this time.
Legacy is a complicated thing. People always say that authors live forever, but it isn’t really true. You will live on as long as other people remember you, but they will also die. Maybe you and your works will last a few generations, but then you will fade out of memory as well. Lasting more than a couple of centuries is extremely rare. A couple of centuries is not forever.
But do you really want forever? Everyone eventually becomes irrelevant. Your legacy lasts only as long as you remain relevant. Maybe that’s enough. Maybe it’s enough if you can touch lives in your own generation, the lives of the people who share the world with you.
I thought a lot about these things while finishing Jingo and after I was done. This book deals with prejudice and stereotypes, but also with history and how it becomes warped and forgotten with time. Really, Jingo only starts this conversation and it continues in many of Pratchett’s other books, with much more sophistication. It’s complicated and strange and sometimes it makes you uncomfortable to think about it.
But, I think, what I’m really trying to say is that no-one lasts forever and everyone’s legacy becomes twisted and/or forgotten with time, even that of an author. And that’s okay, because the impact you make with your life on the lives of others while you are alive is really the most effective and the strongest. It’s a ripple effect, spreading out in directions and to places you could never have foreseen, which touches other lives. I am very grateful to have been one of the little drops touched by Pratchett’s life-ripples.
I’m sorry, did I make you sit through all of that when all you really wanted was a review of Jingo? You can find my review right here. This was a reread; I’d already reviewed it before.
And why did I say I would post this last week, but only did it now? Let’s just pretend I thought it did not belong on April Fool’s Day and that it was not that my disorganisation stretched further than I thought possible. However, the queue is now again up and running so next week’s post is guaranteed to be on time.