Going Postal

10 October 2015

A man is hanged for his crimes. As opposed to falling to his death, the swindler falls into a fate much worse: a government job. The premise alone won me over.

 

Going Postal was my introduction to Terry Pratchett. The story was dripping with wit, clever perspective, and great humor. It fits into a category I call “Brit Wit Lit,” a collection of works ranging from Douglas Adams to Jasper Fforde. Despite this being my first encounter with Discworld, the book was plenty accessible.

 

The story follows Moist von Lipwig, a professional con man and jack-of-all-trades, as he rebuilds the post office of Ankh-Morpork (the New York City of Discworld). In the process, he invents stamps and sparks their cultural significance, performs elaborate displays of heroism that cast the postal industry in a romantic limelight, and drives private communication companies out of business. Readers even learn a thing or two about golems, as Lipwig’s parole officer is made of clay and his sweetheart works to employ them. While much of this sounds silly, the book is quite intelligent. Not only is Going Postal a comedic masterpiece, but it offers sharp insight into mankind’s quirks and society’s shortcomings. Pratchett will touch parts of your mind that are left unconscious and keep you thinking after the cover is closed. I, for one, will never view stamp-collecting in the same light.

 

To assign Going Postal a genre is difficult. Discworld books are technically “comic fantasy,” but this book had a strong vibe of political and social satire. I imagine most of Pratchett’s work carries a similar vein of intellect. Strictly “fantasy” or “comedy” would sell it short. I consider it “classy imagination.”

 

Looking forward to more Pratchett.