Review: A Slip of the Keyboard by Terry Pratchett

‘That’s how people see you. It makes you feel quite alone. ‘

I’m back! Granted a week without posts might go unnoticed, I had to consciously take a moment to scream into the endless void. Or Twitter as it’s formally called. But I did read some books! At the very tail end of Halloween suffering with a wine hangover, I kind of just decided I was going to do Nonfiction November to try and break up my reading and to push myself closer to my Goodreads goal. I have fallen behind on the Discworld Project so Terry Pratchett had to be my first port of call.

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.

I think it will be no surprise to you all that one; I adored this book and two; that I have never reviewed a nonfiction book before so this one is gonna be a little all over the place. So if you’re looking to this book for the roots of Discworld or a day by day biography of Pratchett right up to his death, this isn’t quite it but it kind of is. Just like Discworld itself, it’s not entirely that but it kind of is completely that and more.

This is like having conversations with an old friend that you only see once a year at a convention while also feeling like you’re talking to that eccentric uncle you only see at weddings and funerals. This book collects a combination of articles, speeches, various introductions and essays Sir Terry Pratchett wrote over his life. We do get to see the development of his writing, getting to read some of his articles from his time as a press officer for the Central Electricity Generating Board (CEGB) and the other tail end of his career where he was protesting for people to have access to necessary meds for Alzheimer’s disease, the option for assisted dying and an overall larger amount of dignity that all people deserve.

I suppose as with short story collections and anthologies, the approach I’m going to take here is detail the standout parts to me. My favourite that I’m still thinking about and might show my bias, is the speech made to Trinity College in 2010 titles ‘A Genuine Absent Minded Professor’. In case you didn’t know, Terry Pratchett was a Professor of English at Trinity College in Dublin from 2010 until his tragic death. This is definitely one of the longer pieces in the book but if you only read that speech I feel you would feel closer to Pratchett too. This speech has so much in it, details of becoming a writer, his confrontation of living an battling his condition and just some wonderful words to think on.

Hardest read is definitely one of the end pieces, ‘A Week in the Death of Terry Pratchett’. I think it’s fairly obvious why it’s hard to read and why I found it a very emotional experience. I still can’t get through ‘Terry Pratchett: Back In Black’ without crying. I still find it hard to believe a man who has such an impact on me was destined to never meet me and know how often I can’t quite believe he is dead. Thank you Terry, as always.

Alright not much of a review, more of a gush but still a wonderful book. It is definitely worth your time. If you’re looking for comfort in a writer who didn’t turn out to be a shit head, I will always stan Terry Pratchett. And of course if you don’t want to read Discworld, you can read this or any of his other books! Thanks for checking in guys, happy reading!

★★★★★/5

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