07 October 2009

Going Postal

Con artist extra-
ordinaire Moist von Lipwig has just been offered the job of a lifetime – postmaster of Ankh-Morpork. Well, in poor Moist’s case, it will be the only job offered in his lifetime if he doesn’t take it. Otherwise, crafty ruler Lord Vetinari will arrange for Moist to pay the hangman a visit…again. Forced into an honest job, Moist tries to make the best of his situation, despite being up to his eyeballs (and beyond) in mountains of talking undelivered mail and having to contend with a ragtag band of postal postmen, not to mention the murderous competition with the heinous Reacher Gilt and his ill-gotten Grand Truck clacks system. It’s a tall order, but Moist and his more than ample skill for conniving are up to the challenge!

When I asked for book recommendations a few weeks ago, Scott suggested Going Postal to me. He warned me: “You will love Going Postal. You may love it too much.” He was right. I did love Going Postal too much. In fact, I didn’t want to return it to the library. It’s sort of an obsessive, possessive love. (If Going Postal were a person, I suspect that I would have a restraining order served on me.) I know that’s wrong (and a touch creepy), but this book is just so funny. I love anything that makes me laugh, but Going Postal made me laugh on so many different levels. This novel is a brilliant send up of by-the-book bureaucracy and corporate greed. It’s also a hilarious satire of traditional fantasy novels. I love epic traditional fantasies, such as Tolkien's work, but they are always so serious. It’s refreshing to read something that is not afraid to be outrageous and quirky. And quirky is the only word that I can think of to describe these characters, especially the disturbingly pin-obsessed Stanley and the equally disturbingly post office obsessed post men. I like quirky characters (primarily because I am one), so I loved how unique Pratchett makes his characters, without making them seem artificial or forced. As much as I loved the satire and characters, I really loved Pratchett’s style. He writes such witty dialogue and sarcastic narration. I especially loved his comic descriptions and his renderings of Moist’s inner thoughts. (I kept trying to choose a favorite example, but I gave up after about chapter three.) His laugh-out-loud sarcasm reminds me of some of my favorite writers – Roald Dahl and Lynne Truss. (Snarky English writers fill me with a profound sense of inner joy.)

Going Postal is an excellent comic novel, but it’s also really enjoyable to read just because it is so well written. This book has a very fast pace, and the outrageous goings-on means you’re certainly never bored. Even though things get pretty crazy, Pratchett always infuses his scenes and characters with such realism that they never seem absurd or unbelievable. At the same time, Pratchett gets you really wrapped up in the action. I loved Moist and wanted him to succeed. (And that’s saying something, because I usually hate the hero.) True, I wouldn’t let Moist anywhere near my bank account (not that he’d find much), but I adored his brassy chutzpah, his flamboyant showmanship, and his crafty quick-thinking. Before I read this novel, I was concerned that I might be a bit lost. Going Postal is the 29th Discworld novel, and I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to follow who was who. I was relieved that that was not a problem at all. I’m sure that, as a newbie, I may have missed some aspects that were references to previous novels, but I never felt like I was missing anything.

I’ve never read a Discworld novel before reading this book. After reading Going Postal, I now feel ashamed of myself for not discovering Pratchett sooner. I also feel a bit deprived. I’m sure Discworld fan will relish Going Postal, but to all of those who swim in a sea of regrettable ignorance in regards to Discworld: I urge you to come out of the darkness and into the light. Discworld is a world well-worth visiting. You may not want to come back. I don’t. I’ve already checked out two more Discworld novels and have another one reserved!

Next Week: I am going to try to read Yann Martel’s Life of Pi. I’ve been meaning to read it for some time now and haven’t. (Wasn’t it Shakespeare who said, “Laziness, thy name is Zella.”? Maybe not…) But for the past month, I’ve kept having random encounters (both online and in person) where this novel keeps getting mentioned, most recently on Adeline's blog. I am not superstitious, but I consider this a sign. A book sign! If I don’t get to finish it, I will try to review Ellis Peters’ A Morbid Taste For Bones. (Don’t worry. It is not about cannibalism…that I know of. It’s a murder mystery set in medieval Britain.)


  1. If you're looking for another good comic novel, check out ABSURDISTAN by Gary Shteyngart.

  2. Haha, Discworld has caught you, Zella! How did I know it would? You have a great journey ahead of you, definitely. :D I'm so glad you liked Going Postal! I knew you would, but I am still glad.
    Next I'd recommend one of three Discworld novels;
    -Making Money, sequel to Going Postal (Moist gets to try his hand at the Ankh-Morpork Royal Mint).
    -The Colour of Magic, very first in the Discworld series, and not as good as Going Postal but definitely gets you connected with the world.
    -Guards! Guards! which is one of my favorites.

    Going Postal is good because it's one of those ones you don't get confused with because you haven't read other Discworld novels. Most of them are like that, thankfully; however, there are a few that aren't. Some of them I wouldn't recommend at first are Eric and The Last Continent.
    There's a list of their order on Wikipedia, if you want to look at it.
    Gosh, sorry! I've been rattling off so many titles. Just because I'm so excited you're interested in Discworld. Haha well.
    Glad you liked it. Can't wait to read the next review.

  3. kat, thanks for the recommendation! I will give it a try. :)

    Scott, Thank you so much for recommending that book to me. I don't know if you saw what I told you last week, but I will repeat: You deserve a whole pan of my grandmother's double fudge brownies for that recommendation! *hands pan over before my family riots and disowns me* :D

    Discworld has got me! (It's addictive!) Making Money is one I have checked out, because I saw it involved Moist, and as I said, I loved Moist. He's awesome! So I will definitely read that one next. I will check out The Colour of Magic and Guards! Guards! too. Thanks again!

    I also checked out Mort. My Pratchett fan coworker recommended the Discworld Death novels to me, so I decided to give them a try.

    Also, I bet you already know about this, but the newest Discworld novel, Unseen Academicals, was released just yesterday. My coworker beat me to it. (Curses! This is what I get for only working part time.) But I was the first to reserve it, so I have dibs on it after she returns it. I would like to make that one my first new book review.

    Thank you so much! I think you have led me to a new favorite author! :)

  4. Oh, no problem, Zella! Your conversion has me chuckling diabolically.
    Oh! Mort is amazing! Why didn't I recommend that one?
    And shoot...I forgot to pre-order Unseen Academicals, but I was at the reading at NADWCON where Terry Pratchett read some of it, so I figure I'm already ahead of the game.
    Unseen Academicals might be a little confusing at parts, since it's probably the ninth or tenth in the Wizards series, but they don't have an overarching plot OR villain (just the same characters and setting) so it should be fine.
    Plus, you'll love The Librarian and Mustrum Ridcully. :D


  5. Scott, it's funny you describe it as a conversion because that's what I've been calling it myself!

    Yes, methinks that having the author read passages to you definitely puts you ahead of the game!

    And thanks for the heads up about the ones that may be a little confusing to the recent convert. I will plan my reading accordingly. I did really love the librarian, what little bit I read of him in Going Postal. You know that part where Pratchett says somethimg about people asking the librarian (who is most certainly NOT a monkey) crazy, vague questions about the books they've read? I get those questions all of the time at work. I think I clapped involuntarily when I read that! :D

    Thanks again! :)

  6. No problem, Zella.
    The Librarian is absolutely amazing. But don't call him a monkey. Looks like you've got the gist of it. ;)
    And all the wizards are a fun lot. You'll enjoy it, and Mort too!


  7. Yeah, my coworker warned me that the librarian was not a monkey. We were actually fantasizing about hiring him at the library where we work. :D