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03 October 2012

'Dodger' by Terry Pratchett

 'Dodger' put me in a 'Nation' state of mind

Once upon a time, Discworld novels were humorous jewels I read on an annual basis.  For a while I read them on a quarterly basis when I realized I was so far behind.  I caught up...  These are the books that B.P.R. (Beloved Proof Reader) resigned himself to purchasing on hardback, freshly pressed, as I would not wait for paperbacks.  Then one day I received 'Nation' and it was wonderful, even with an obvious lack of space turtles and patient elephants.  'Dodger' put me in a 'Nation' state of mind.

Anyone who has read previous blogs knows that I applaud Terry's enthusiastic treatment of muck.  He doesn't tire of this disgusting topic and neither do I.  As I reflect on my reading preferences I realize I can and do tire of gore.  Those kinds of books make an appearance well separated by other books and topics.  Muck, richards, sludge, slime, urine (horse, don't ask) and sewage are so much more entertaining with the right author.  'Dodger' sets out to entertain and, I suspect, remind us of how far we have come and how far we have to go in our big cities.

Something else comes to mind...  You know gentlemen of a certain age "pass gas" without realizing or do so because they are now old men and can do as they please.  Well, I wonder if some of Terry's current interests are not the literary equivalent of this attitude.  He is indeed an experienced writer of a certain age, rich and can now write what he pleases....

The story itself is fun and full of icky thoughts.  And I don't mean the obvious ones when you are in a sewer but more along the lines of the difference between 'truth' and 'facts'.  I liked the idea of Charles Dickens as an intelligent, observant, slightly dangerous character pointing out the strengths of people's beliefs as opposed to facts.  Dodger, the hero, knows what he likes, knows how to survive and like a true "geezer" knows how to pick his friends... which brings me to Sol.  Sol or Solomon Cohen is my favorite character.  I was happy to see a character that balances or addresses prejudices put forward by a certain famous book quite close to our current object.  Sol is a gentle, grateful, educated, cautious and thoughtful man.  He also has a sense of humor and a smelly dog.  Every book needs a smelly dog.

The bad guys I will not discuss in detail because they seem to represent concepts rather than pure individual, unique badness.  There are, of course, the usual suspects, unsavory, violent and cruel but these guys were tools used by others.  Society itself, vested interests, war mongering, social snobbery, poverty, lack of education, politics and the status quo were the real bad guys. It is probably easier to give someone a nasty scar, a silky cat and lots of missiles then to point the finger at your own governments for the unfairness of a short, dirty life.  'Dodger' points the solution towards individuals and not to believe everything you read ... I wonder if he is trying to tell us something?

Terry Pratchett 
ISBN: 9780385619271 

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