Books and Death

Reaper ManI recently read a blogpost reflecting on the death of author Terry Pratchett.  Terry Pratchett…why did that name sound familiar to me?

The reflective blogger lived in the UK and noted that Pratchett was a best-selling English author of fantasy novels.  I guess that’s why I hadn’t heard the news.  He must be a bigger deal there than here across the pond.  But that name still tugged at me. Did I ever read his books?

Of course I did.  I’m embarrassed to admit that.  I didn’t make the connection until I did an Internet search.  He wrote the Discworld series, a satirical set of stories that ties together dragons, witches, politicians, gods, cats and centaurs that live in a flat world.  During high school, I dove into book series like this as well as the Myth series by Robert Aspirin and the Xanth series by Piers Anthony.

The Color of Magic was Discworld Book 1, a tale about our hero wizard, Rincewind, who travels from his home city of Ankh-Morpork to the edge of the Disc, a journey that is actually a chess game played by gods.  Suddenly nostalgic, wanting to feel a part of it all and properly mourn the death of a fine writer, I searched my stash for his book.

My bookshelf boasts blank journals and an eclectic combination of my read-or-to-be-read-again books.  Many of my sentimental favorites are in boxes in the basement, callously but deliberately misplaced from my reach, so I wasn’t sure I’d find anything upstairs, but that was the easiest place to start.  I was surprised when I saw right there on the second shelf, third book down on the overflow sideways stack, was the book Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett.

This wasn’t the first book in the series, yet I know I bought this one for a reason.  Why?

Two things caught my attention.  One, the front cover blurb reads, “It’s no vacation when Death takes a holiday.”  That’s what must have caught my eye because cover art does nothing for me.  This version showed the Grim Reaper with scythe inside a snow globe.  Charming, I suppose, but titles and taglines grab my valuable reading attention.

Reaper Man BordersThe second thing was the back cover.  The price tag was from Borders, a bookstore chain that died almost exactly 4 years ago.  Based on the book’s placement on my bookshelf, I must have bought it from the custom-built-from-scratch store that opened 8 months after I moved to Michigan.  This new store was less than 3 miles from my house, freshly built for me I liked to think, but that store became the default hangout spot for my husband and me.  I wandered the aisles and often took a magazine or my journal to the upstairs café before he joined me.

The store chain closed in July 2011, displacing us shortly after I became Foursquare Mayor of that location, and an appliance store snuck into those walls.

This one book brought back so many memories.  It was Death in so many forms.

In December 2014, I committed one New Year’s non-Resolution to revisit an old favorite book.  At the time, I had one particular book in mind, using this as an excuse to read that book for the third or fourth time.  But now I think this is the one to revive and explore.  Who knows?  Maybe I’ll write a review about it to remember reading it this time.


    • Barbara Pattee on May 25, 2016 at 9:41 am
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    The death of Octavia E. Butler, an African American Science Writer, was a loss to the lovers of innovative science fiction. One of her most imaginative novels, “Kindred”, mixed time travel with genealogy and slavery.

    1. Fascinating. What an intriguing combination of storytelling elements!

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