Why, Sir Terry, WHY???

I’m having a problem with Terry Pratchett’s Dodger.  And I say this as a huge fan of his.

Does Dodger HAVE to run into EVERY famous person ever?

#2:  he does NOT run into Jack the Ripper

#1:  Charles Dickens, Sweeney Todd, Disraeli…. it takes me right out of the story.  It would be more believable if the names were made-up.  Let’s just name-drop Babbage and Lovelace while we’re at it, no reason at all, they don’t even have lines, we’ll just put them in this scene because Look How Much I Know!

#2:  The little professor has a couple of posts on this

#1:  (wow, I didn’t know that)  is there ever anyone who DOESN’T run into charles dickens?

#2:  I’m just proud of him for not running into Jack the Ripper

#1:  did Dickens seriously know every single person in London?  It’s just…. it’s cheap.  Were Dickens and Disraeli really friends?  I mean, really?  It’s cheap.

it’s like it’s saying, ha ha, in the book.

The things Disraeli does… the whole thing would be more believable if it were someone made-up.  And Dickens is always stopping to make a note of some turn of phrase that is the title of one of his books…. STUPID!

#2:  Yes, he could have had thinly disguised nods to famous people like he does in his Discworld series; however, I thought of Dodger more as a YA fiction, and those often have famous people in them.  Pretend the book is for 12 year olds.

#1:  I thought about that, but then there’s [SPOILER ALERT] domestic violence and miscarriage and baby-killing….

#2:  but not graphic or overt
it’s even discussed in a YA sort of fashion

#1:  but does a 12-year-old know who Disraeli is?  Like, there’s no REASON to have him in there.  If you’re old enough to know who he is, you’re old enough to think it’s disingenuous to have him in there.

#2: The 12 year old learns about Disraeli from books like that.

#1:  I dunno.  I’m just not… I don’t feel very forgiving about this book.  I feel like he’s written much better things.

#2:  He has.  It’s called Discworld.

#1:  he could do Dodger in Discworld though, and it would be better, with all the same themes.  I mean, Good Omens was fantastic.

#2:  Oh, yes.

#2: he’s not as good at children’s fiction, except when he’s not aiming it at children (see:  Tiffany Aching).  Diggers is terrible, and Johnny and the bomb is totally mediocre.

#1:  Dodger is just… cheap.  It’s like he’s saying, look how clever.

the Tiffany Aching books are amazing!  Why didn’t he just keep doing that.
Nudge, nudge, wink wink, can you tell that Karl Marx is in here, nudge nudge.
I don’t want to be nudged. Just make up some damn characters!  You’re a writer!
and I know: he is not my bitch.  But yet…
[Disclaimer:  #2 liked Dodger just fine and would totally recommend it to any middle schooler and up.  Not her favorite Terry Pratchett, but better than many non-Terry Pratchetts.  Her partner thought it was ok, but didn’t think it was great.]

Readers, what makes you mad?

16 Responses to “Why, Sir Terry, WHY???”

  1. Spanish Prof Says:

    So you finally managed to figure out how to do the images thing?

  2. Kellen Says:

    Tiffany Aching is awesome.
    Also, Good Omens, but I think there is a special magic because of Neil Gaiman being involved. If only 1) Neil Gaiman would write more novels 2) Terry Pratchett would write more books with Neil Gaiman.

  3. delagar Says:

    Maurice and His Amazing Educated Rodents is brilliant, tho.

    Terry Pratchett’s recent books have not been much, I am sad to admit. I don’t know if it’s because he’s cranking them out too fast because he’s afraid he won’t be able to write much longer, or if it’s because the alzheimer’s has already done too much damage.

    My kid starts crying every time she thinks about this. “Why Terry Pratchett?” she demands. “Why not Rush Limbaugh? Or George BUSH?”

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Yes, Maurice and His Amazing Educated Rodents is indeed brilliant, and it is set in Discworld. :)

      We thought Snuff was BRILLIANT. So, no, I don’t think we agree with the thought that his recent books have not been much. I’ve also been rereading his books from the beginning, and they vary in quality. Pyramids, one of his early books,… not so great. The Watch series has just been getting deeper and more amazing– the switch from focus from Carrot to Vimes added a huge depth. He’s also never written a bad Death book or a bad Witches book.

      • delagar Says:

        Nah, I meant it was YA book of his that was brilliant.

        Also the Nation: YA and kind of great.

        I didn’t like Snuff so much, though his other Night Watch books I have loved to bits. Night Watch itself might be my favorite. Unless The Truth is my favorite. It’s hard to say.

        But Snuff felt out of focus and rambly. :(

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        DH liked Nation. He said I wouldn’t, so I haven’t read it.

        Snuff so perfectly captures having a gifted kid. And we thought it was beautifully crafted and everything came together brilliantly.

        Actual conversation from right after I read it:

        #2: nomnom
        So, [partner] is finally recovering from being sick. Huzzah!
        me: yay!
        #2: Yesterday he was much more like himself.
        me: no more coughing!
        Snuff is AWESOME, btw
        #2: well, SOME coughing. But also nookie.
        me: And Young Sam is totally like [DC1]
        #2: awwww
        11:38 AM me: well, up until the point when he starts asking to dissect thigns
        #2: hehe
        me: [DC1] isn’t really into dissection yet
        #2: just you wait…
        me: but [ze] has been asking about life on ohter planets
        #2: good baby!
        … [long conversation about museums]
        me: Snuff talks a lot about farm poop
        apparently fascinating to the under-5 set
        11:43 AM #2: hahahaha. If you don’t have to pick it up in the cold, it is.
        me: heh
        11:44 AM #2: also, though, sometimes a goat will lick your hand with a soft little tongue.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      p.s. Alzheimer’s didn’t seem to prevent Reagan from doing damage.

  4. First Gen American Says:

    These authors are in my husband’s literary domain. He loves Gaiman, but there are always too many characters/subplots in his books and they are too hard to follow with my feeble brain. I don’t read often enough to remember all the details in his complicated books. He has a good memory, I don’t, and I think that’s why he can love it and I get frustrated trying to remember all that’s going on at once.

  5. chacha1 Says:

    Hmmm, what makes me mad … I presume (given the context) you mean specifically about writers and books. ;-)

    The thing I most often encounter that makes me mad is factually incorrect narrative. If you are writing an alternate history, then having something happen that didn’t really happen is fine (as long as it proceeds somewhat logically from what really did happen). But if it is allegedly an historical novel, then the history had damn well better be accurate. In the world of Google and Wikipedia, there is no excuse for not *looking it up* you lazy bitches. (Not you, N&M, but the can’t be-arsed writers of the world.) This applies to everything from who was the ruling party to what the dresses looked like. LOOK IT UP. Ahem.

    The second thing that makes me mad is anachronistic characterization and dialogue. This is endemic in romance novels, and a large reason I read far fewer of them now than I did 20 years ago.

    The third thing is also most commonly found in romance novels, but is by no means limited to them, and that is Asshat Hero & Dimwit Heroine Syndrome.

    Generally speaking I have no objection to the insertion of actual people in fiction (I’ve done it myself) and I tend to agree that using a real person as a character in fiction can often prompt the curious reader to find out more about the real person. On the flip side, the incurious reader may assume that what the real person does in the fiction is what he/she did in real life, and that is … unfortunate. So when I have seen this employed, I have respected it most when the real person does in the fiction what he/she did in real life, and the writer integrates this real person and activity realistically into the fiction.

    I don’t know that I’ve ever read anything by Mr. Pratchett but given the genre in which he writes, I would assume that an even slightly attentive reader would be aware that This Did Not Really Happen; that is, that there is no implicit verisimilitude; and would consider the named “real” person to be acting in ways he/she probably did not IRL.

  6. Rumpus Says:

    Good Omens was great, but I gave up on Dodger…it just wasn’t interesting.

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