I’ve just finished reading my first (adult) Terry Pratchett book – Wyrd Sisters. I’ve mentioned before that I’ve had difficulties getting into Pratchett’s work because they’re meant to be funny books and for some reason that just doesn’t float my boat. I don’t think I’m a humourless person, I like a good laugh, I think the problem is that I’m more of a wallower and I like my books to contain a heavy dose of misery in order to make me grateful that there’s less misery in my own life. So when I’m told how funny a book is I always treat it with a healthy amount of suspicion.
Which is one reason I’d never got into Pratchett. The other reason is that I felt his brand of humour to be too over the top. Too, “Isn’t this so absolutely, totally utterly weird it must be funny? Riiiight?”
For example, the Disc itself is a flat world mounted on top of four giant elephants stood on the back of a giant turtle swimming through space. Now that’s absolutely, totally, utterly weird but why does that make it funny? It’s over-the-top stupid and for me that doesn’t equal laughter.
BUT there are no less than five Terry Pratchett novels on The List so it was clear I was going to have to get over this aversion at some point. So what with my mum being the font of all my bookish knowledge as well as a die hard Pratchett fan, for Christmas I asked for the best book to start reading Pratchett, one that would show me what all the fuss is about. And she obliged with Wyrd Sisters which she tells me is the first that she read of the Discworld series and therefore clearly a good starting point.
So….what did I think?
Well first, I didn’t find it hilarious but it was funny. There were a few moments when I found it to be over the top but only a few, mostly I thought the humour was more subtle which is how I like it. I didn’t fall off my chair but I did chuckle.
But more importantly, I liked the story. It took me a while to realise this as I was obsessing over whether it was funny and why I wasn’t finding it funny and pinpointing bits that did make me chuckle to actually realise that, funny or not, I liked it.But once I had made that stunning revelation I was able to relax a bit more and just read it for the story itself rather than trying to force a laugh out of every page. I liked the characters (especially the Fool), I liked the storylines and I really lied all the references to Shakespeare .
So in the end I found myself enjoying a great tale about a lost king, his ghostly father and the witches not meddling in any courtly goings-on. And I didn’t slap my thighs or shake my belly like a bowlful of jelly but that’s ok because I appreciated the book in my own way and in the end that’s all that matters.
In the words of a very wise lady (Armande Voizin from Chocolat): “Don’t worry so much about ‘supposed to’ “*.
*I watched this film again and realised that the correct quote is: “Don’t worry so much about ‘not supposed to’ ” but the sentiment is the same and my original misquote serves my purposes better.