Going Postal read-along


1) At this end of the book, which characters turned out to be your favorites?

Hmm. I rather liked most of them. Stanley and Mr Grout were some of the wackiest. Vetinari is already one of my favorites. Poor hardworking Mr. Pony. I’m a subcontractor, so I know how he feels.

2) We’ve touched on Moist’s character growth throughout the discussion.  How do you feel about him by the end of the story?  Is it significantly different than the beginning, or did anything surprise you?

He turned into a more decent person, just as I expected. It was great that he had to face the consequences of his actions. But he’s still thinking that he’s acting more decent rather than being decent, so I think he still has something to learn. He’s also still an adrenalin junkie although he seems get high from executing complex plans and being the center of attention.

Come to think of it, Guilt seems to be Moist’s mirror image: also a con man but he doesn’t learn.

Both Guilt and Moist are expert at making people believe how and what they say, instead of the truth, even when it’s very obvious what the truth is. This is another commentary about the way today’s big businesses operate.

3) Was there anything you haven’t had the chance to discuss in response to earlier questions?  Call this a “wild card” question. 🙂

The golem subplot was left unresolved but I think that’s intentional.

The situation with the stagecoaches was interesting; the drivers just took over essentially government equipment (the stagecoaches and the horses) and continued the service while making money out of it. It seems that Vetinari either got something out of it or just chose to ignore it for a while.

The epilogue was also interesting and showed the difference between Moist and Guilt.

4) Share your favorite quotes and moments from the final section—or let us know your absolute favorite line.

I really enjoyed the way Vetinari sprang into action. It seems that even though he’s a tyrant (as he says!) even he can’t ignore public opinion.

“Archchancellor Ridcully practiced the First Available Surface method of filing. “ I’m very familiar with it, too.

“This is about words, and how you can twist them, and how you can spin them in people’s heads so that they think the way you want them to. We’ll send a message of our own, and do you know that? The boys in the towers will want to send it, and when people know what it says they’ll want to believe it, because they’ll want to live in a world where it’s true.”

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1) So far we’ve talked about characters and settings.  What are your thoughts on either the plot or the romance?  Anything surprising, or anything you particularly enjoy?

I’ve enjoyed the plot, but I read mostly for the characters and the setting, anyway. I’m not a romance reader and mostly I read books despite the romance. However, Pratchett romances have often been different from the usual ones (for example, Lords and Ladies has three of them and I rather enjoyed them all). But this time, I haven’t warmed to the romance. It’s been, well, predictable and boring. Our slick hero goes slack jawed in front of the heroine. I’ve seen that before… The bright spot is Dearheart. She’s quite an unusual female character and doesn’t require rescuing or anyone to take care of her.

The journalists are a delight.

The previous section didn’t have as many funny moments as the first one. The funny moments seem to have returned with chapter 11 and Moist visiting Groat in the hospital.

2) Pratchett has used a number of ideas throughout the book as satirical commentary on our society—golem rights, pin collecting, collective responsibility, business corruption…  What have you found the most interesting?

Big business doing what the hell they want. That’s what they do in real life and trampling underfoot all little businesses all the while talking like, well, like Gilt did in the interview. And the way they drove the first owners of the clack network out of the firm – legally!

I’ve enjoyed the pin collecting the most and was a bit disappointed when Stanley found stamps. Although, the way he felt guilty for abandoning pins was very funny. Most of us find new interests in life and sometimes feel a bit guilty for enjoying the new hobby more.

3) And of course, share your favorite quotes and moments from this section of Going Postal!

Moist visiting Grout in the hospital was the return of the funny. Grout’s suspicious attitude towards medicine and his use of folk medicines are funny.

I’m also really enjoying the journalists and the headlines in the newspaper, and the way that the newspaper goads Moist on. Guilt’s little talk with the bankers was quite chilling. I was a bit sorry to see the Post Office burn but Moist’s miracle heist was a stroke of genius. It seems to me that he doesn’t seem to realize the effect he’s having on the people around him. Maybe he hasn’t stayed in one place long enough to see.

1)      Pratchett has done some lavish setting descriptions by now, notably the Post Office but also rooms at Unseen University, and other places around Ankh-Morpork.  What’s your favorite one?

The university had been my favorite until now but the Post Office is now my favorite, with its sea of undelivered mail threating everyone’s health and life.

I also like the witches’ cottages.

2)      In Chapter 7, Moist waxes poetic about the personal nature of letters versus clacks.  This could easily be looked at as email and other on line communication versus paper letters.  Do you agree with Moist, or does he exaggerate?  And just for fun, what’s the best piece of paper mail you ever got?

When we’re talking about print letter/email, mostly I don’t agree. After all, neither have the tone and facial expressions we get when talking face to face (Skype is more personal than an email). Print letter does have personal handwriting which can be either a good or a bad thing (or illegible) so it feels more personal but the sender has to write the email, too.

Yet, on the other hand, if we’re talking about a stock email or email written by a secretary, then of course it’s impersonal. But so are stock print letters. So, the medium doesn’t really make it more or less personal, it’s the content that counts.

I guess I feel that clacks are more like telegrams than email. There you have the clear word count and someone else sending it.

Best piece of paper mail… I love all of the letters and postcards I’ve received from abroad.

3)      Share your favorite quotes and moments from this section of Going Postal.

The moving sea of mail, when Moist is trying to climb up and the glimpse into the past. Those descriptions were just great and lovely.

Since I’m reading the Finnish translation, these are more like paraphrasing back to English:
“Hey buddy, want to see Vetinari’s behind?”

“Mr Hobson, nobody rides out of town faster than I.”

The first part in the Going Postal read-along:

1) For those new to Pratchett or Going Postal, what are your first impressions?  For re-readers, is anything striking you this time that you didn’t notice on a first read?
 
I’ve read Pratchett before but I haven’t read this book. First impression: chapters! A Pratchett book with chapters! The book also has only two prologues, so it goes quickly to the point. Hangings aren’t usually funny but Pratchett can clearly make them so.

2) We’ve started to get to know our protagonist, Moist von Lipvig, by now.  What are your thoughts on him so far?
 
Moist is really getting what he deserves. He takes great pride in the fact that he isn’t violent but at the same time, he thinks that the people he swindles get what they deserve. He’s even confronted with it in the fourth chapter and he clearly hasn’t given even one thought to the people his crimes have affected. He has great skills in manipulating other people, as is shown by the way he handles Stanley and later the hair salon owner. I find this fascinating because almost all of the manipulative characters I’ve read so far have been women. Of course, manipulation is far more funny that violence. Even though he’s funny, he’s always looking out only for himself, which isn’t appealing.

I strongly suspect that he will become a more upstanding citizen before the end. One way or another.

3) We’ve also met quite a few rather unusual supporting characters.  Who are you most looking forward to reading more about?
 
Stanley and his pins have been the funniest so far and Vetinari is always a delight.

4) What are your favorite quotes or moments from this section of the book?
 
I’m reading the Finnish translation so I think it’s best if I don’t give quotes but I really enjoyed the scene in the pin shop where people think that there’s something shameful about pins. And the way that Moist dealt with the hair salon owner. Oh, and the way that Groat reads from the manual.

I’m really enjoying this one!

Cheryl Mahoney of Tales of the Marvelous is hosting Summer in Discworld: Terry Pratchett Reading Challenge and I’m signing up.

Pratchett is consistently responsible for the funniest books I read each year, and I wanted to share the laughs. This is a challenge only in the loose sense–all you have to do to participate is read any book from Pratchett’s sprawling 40-book Discworld series between June 1st and August 31st, and tell us about it. There’s a separate review page.

She also hosts a group read of Going Postal and if I can get the book, I’ll join in.

Week 1, from “The Nine Thousand Year Prologue” through “Chapter 4: A Sign” – reviews on July 9

Week 2, from “Chapter 5: Lost in the Post” through “Chapter 7: Tomb of Words” – reviews on July 16

Week 3, from “Chapter 7A: Post Haste” through “Chapter 11: Mission Statement” – reviews on July 23

Week 4, from “Chapter 12: The Woodpecker” to the end! – reviews on July 30

Read:
1, Terry Pratchett: Going Postal
2, Terry Pratchett: Lords and Ladies
3, Terry Pratchett: Wyrd Sisters
Terry Pratchett: Eric

My current Pratchett reading pool:
Eric (not a reread, after all)
Wyrd Sisters (relisten)
Jingo
Men at Arms
Wee Free Men
Lords and Ladies