Going Postal Book Review, Terry Pratchett
Another Pratchett book here. I’m on a bit of a vein really. I’m really liking his writing at the moment, and it’s a whole world of books I haven’t read before: brilliant, eh? This book follows another of the mini-Discworld-series that I spoke of in my Snuff review, and this time it’s Moist Von Lipwig (don’t laugh)(pronounced Lipvig). It’s genuinely surprising how interesting a book about a dilapidated old post office is. Then again, this is Ankh Morpork we’re talking about.
In ‘Going Postal’, ex-conman fraudster Moist Von Lipwig (without any of his aliases) is at the ed of the line. He’s been caught, and he’s sentenced to hang, and hang he does. It isn’t often, though, that guardian angels come in the form of your local city tyrant, one Lord Vetinari. Apparently, Moist has a choice. He can either get the old Postal Service going again, or he can go back to being dead. They seem like quite similar fates. Moist is thrilled at his strike of luck, and accepts the job. Of course, the first thing he does is fetch a horse and bag it out of the city double time. Unfortunately, he is dragged back to the Post Office by his own personal Golem, Mr. Pump. Then things really get tough.
The plot of Going Postal seems to contain far fewer happenings than that of Snuff. However, it’s all a bit more crazy, and it always feels that Lipwig is only just keeping a lid on the situation. The majority of the plot features Lipwig’s impossible ventures in the name of the post office, and these are wonderful to behold. Where Mr. Pratchett gets his ideas from I truly do not know, all I can say is that he must have some pretty damn wonderful dreams (andohmygodmykeyboardisreallypissingmeofftoday,IswearI’mhavingtopusheverybuttonthreetimes). Whilst the story is strictly about the rejuvenation of the post office, what it all really boils down to is the Post Office versus the Clacks Tower. It boils down to the big race, which equates to emails versus the post in our world. It all boils down to Moist Von Lipwig against Reacher Gilt: conman to conman. In Going Postal, I really didn’t know where the next shock was coming from. The plot was really hidden to me: I fully expected it to be all about postal strikes and lost mail, not a battle to be the fastest communication system. If you think that a book about a post office cannot possibly be of any good, read Going Postal, and be wrong.
I must say this again and I’m sorry. Pratchett’s characters are top notch. Moist von Liwig is quick, opportunistic and immensely clever. There’s degree level social psychology, then there’s something better than that, and if that something better than that looked upwards with binoculars, you might just be able to make out Lipwig walking out of a bank at midday a few thousand richer. This man’s personality is incredible. Pratchett must spend a lot of his time planning his characters, as instead of evolving throughout the course of a book (or series), they seem to strut out onto the first page fully formed and ready to rock. Pratchett creates what is almost two separate personas for Lipwig: the Postmaster who is doing his all to put post back through letterboxes and the Criminal who still holds some hope of escaping the job, and Vetinari. There’s Stanley too. Oh, Stanley. He’s a funny old soul – collects pins, and whilst he does have his Little Moments, he’s exceptionally good at following the rules. I do think that Pratchett could have made more of Reacher Gilt though. I felt no exceptional wish for him to get his comeuppance, as I didn’t feel like he was as much of a character as he could have been.
Overall, I’d say that whilst Going Postal is good, is isn’t as good as Snuff, nor Unseen Academicals. It’s brilliant, but it just isn’t long enough. Everything seems to happens so quickly, there doesn’t seem to be much of a timescale to things (although I have noted this in other Pratchett books). It gives the book a surreal quality of things happening twenty four hours a day, and the characters just standing still when the focus is not on them. I don’t know how to word it really, it just doesn’t seem enough. Perhaps after reading ‘Making Money’ which is more or less a direct sequal, I will feel better.
Going Postal is a 7/10 for me. It wasn’t as good as Snuff, but it was still a really enjoyable read. I wasn’t compelled to pick it up though; I just kept looking at the book and thinking ‘naah’, I’ll read it at the weekend (which I did).