I said that "I don't do this" last week when Leonard Nimoy died, and I don't--really. I don't memorialize celebrities, but Leonard Nimoy was an exception.
And then Terry Pratchett died.
I was in class when I found out this morning--my students were working in groups, and I was trying to get a bit of grading done while they were working, and the Facebook notice flashed across my screen, and suddenly, I was having to hold back tears because my favorite author won't be writing anymore.
It's not just that Terry Pratchett is my favorite author. There's been precious little literary criticism written about him, and of it, some of it was written by me. I don't have anything published in a journal, but my entire master's thesis was about intertextuality in the Night Watch books from the Discworld series. When I first discovered Terry Pratchett, I spent a lot of money I didn't have to collect the books, and then I spent over a year immersed in Discworld as I studied it. Not long before I defended, Pratchett was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's--something he called "an embuggerance."
I live and love Star Trek, but there's something vastly different about living and loving a book series. You inhabit books differently than you do television or movies, because so much of it is you and what you bring to the table and how you imagine surroundings and characters. Even when I've seen adaptations of Pratchett's work, I still don't always see characters the way they are in the mini-series. Angua, in my mind, is a lot more like me than she is the character you see in Going Postal. (Of course, Death's granddaughter, Susan, was dead-on perfect in Hogfather.)
Reading Terry Pratchett's books was the first time I ever saw my father laugh out loud when reading. Even watching TV shows, my dad doesn't really laugh at jokes or anything--he might smile, but he's not very demonstrative when it comes to these things, and I don't think I'd ever seen him even crack a smile while reading. No, reading Terry Pratchett, my father laughed out loud, deep belly laughs that always crack you up to hear because someone is really tickled and you can't help but be tickled in return. He would even read bits and pieces out loud to my mom, which he never does!
After I read them, I got my friends to read them, and I don't know if I introduced Pratchett to my husband or not--I want to think that he'd heard of him before, but had never read it until he started dating me--but he's been rereading Pratchett's books of late himself.
How do you mourn the finest satirist of the last half century? Quotes from Death, one of Pratchett's anthropomorphic personifications (yes, that's a joke on Pratchett's part) have been coming up here and there. Mine said: DON'T THINK OF IT AS DYING, Death said. THINK OF IT AS LEAVING EARLY TO AVOID THE RUSH. Pratchett's twitter announced his death with Death coming to visit - and a final tweet of "The End."
Neil Gaiman posted to his blog about Pratchett's death--but didn't have the words to express his grief and said they would have to come later. All I can say is that I am heartbroken over this, will probably shed some tears, and will go home to pick up Guards! Guards! with its tattered cover and broken spine and fall in love with Discworld all over again.