Terry Pratchett: A Life With Footnotes: The Official Biography

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Terry Pratchett: A Life With Footnotes: The Official Biography

Terry Pratchett: A Life With Footnotes: The Official Biography

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The final chapters of the book and of Pratchett's life are incredibly sad. Dementia is a cruel disease that chips away at a person until a mere shell is left. It's distressing and fear producing for the patient and painful and worrying for their family and friends. This, for me, was the primary message to pay attention to in this volume. Rob may not have come into Terry's life until much later but this was being worked on before he was taken from us for too soon and we are given insights by his friends, family and former work colleagues to give us a book that is bursting with detail that it could almost have been completely written by the man himself.

At the time of his death in 2015, award-winning and bestselling author Sir Terry Pratchett was working on his finest story yet - his own. After Terry was diagnosed with Posterior Cortical Atrophy, a rare form of Alzheimer’s disease, in 2007, at the cruelly early age of 59, I began to accompany him at public appearances, reading for him when he no longer could, helping him through interviews on stage as “keeper of the anecdote”. We became, of necessity, a sort of double act. i'm hoping i'll be able to persuade my sister (who's never touched a discworld book in her life) to read this, and not even because i want her to somehow magically understand what pratchett's writing means to me - even if i did, that's arguably not within this book's scope - but because i think it is, for want of a better word, a story well told.A co na ní bylo tak zvláštního, že jsem se nakonec pročetla až do konce? Cit, hořkosladkost, naděje a plno zlomených srdcí mezi řádky. O pár set stran později se k nim to moje přidalo. Not only is the biography written with snark and wit, the reader gets to see events through the eyes of TP as well as Wilkins, thereby affording a more wholesome reading experience. First up a big credit to Rob Wilkins, who worked as Pratchett's PA for around 20 years and now works with the renowned author's daughter to help manage Pratchett's estate. It's actually quite touching seeing Wilkins' personal journey with Pratchett as it adds the perfect sort of lens for a biography. It's odd, usually a biography is either too weirdly self-centred if written by the person, and too distant by others, but this book strikes a balance.

Heart breaking and funny . . . sometimes joyfully, sometimes painfully, intimate . . . it is wonderful to have this closeup picture of the writer's working life. Frank Cottrell-Boyce, Observer Flabbergastingly, there were also quite some history lessons in this book. I, for example, had not known there was a nuclear incident scaled 5-out-of-7 in Pennsylvania in the 70s (as a European, I mostly heard about Chernobyl and the much later incident at Fukushima but not much else). It’s this kind of added value that make this shine even brighter. But the genuine friendship between Wilkins and Pratchett, with all its restrained Britishness, makes the book shine. A Life With Footnotes is a loving tribute and a joyful double act. It was touching to read of Terry’s friendships, and how he was affected by the death of Douglas Adams, whose books were important to him. “In 1983, when a reviewer in Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine declared The Colour of Magic the funniest thing he had ever read, Terry’s response was, ‘He couldn’t have read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, then.’” Rob Wilkins says: ‘Living a life alongside one of the world’s greatest authors, then reliving every moment for his biography, has been an incredible journey. Terry was one of the most talented, complex, intellectually stimulating people I’ve ever had the privilege of meeting - a true genius. The responsibility of documenting his life when I lived so much of it with him has been such an emotive experience. A Life with Footnotes is a book that I hope would have made Terry proud.’

Pratchett novices get enough context to follow along, often via the frequent footnotes. These are a signature of Pratchett’s novels, which Wilkins mostly avoids spoiling. However, if you’ve been intending to read Pratchett’s last book, The Shepherd’s Crown, do so before you get to chapter 20. An insightful and moving biography detailing the extraordinary life of award-winning and bestselling author Terry Pratchett, written by Rob Wilkins, his friend, former assistant, and now head of the author's literary estate. This book is a loving treatment of an author that gave so many fantastic books, the Discworld series and many others. Wilkins draws from Pratchett’s incomplete autobiographical notes, Wilkins’ own experiences with Pratchett’s over more than a decade, and interviews with Pratchett’s family, closest friends, and colleagues. He tells a wonderful and inspirational story, even once Death starts lingering around the Chapel. Writers and readers alike will be enchanted and inspired by Pratchett’s life. Written by Sir Terry’s long time assistant with the consent and support of his family and the great man himself before his untimely demise.



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