We’re starting off the discussion with a few questions about the first hundred pages of the book.
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’m obviously a re-reader. This is actually one of my first Discworld re-reads–there are so many books, I’ve mostly been seeking out new ones to explore! I find that the satire is making a bigger impression this time around–I noticed it before, but I’m seeing it more now. I think I get distracted by all the wonderful humor on an initial read, and while a second time through is still very, very funny, the deeper aspects of the book are coming through more clearly as well. In just this first section Pratchett has already started touching on so many ideas, about government, truth, civil rights, collectors culture… I’ll leave it at that for now, as I want to discuss the satire in more depth in a later post, after it’s been developed further!
2) We’ve started to get to know our protagonist, Moist von Lipvig, by now. What are your thoughts on him so far?
Pratchett’s makes a lot of Moist’s charm. Everyone seems to love him, despite the fact that he’s a crook and a scoundrel–and somehow they seem to love him because of it. I love that Moist himself directly observes this paradox. I also feel like Pratchett is playing the reader much the way Moist plays the crowd. We fall under the spell of Moist’s charm too. He’s friendly, he’s pleasant, he’s completely honest about being a crook, and he has style. I think readers always love a scoundrel, especially one who never really hurts anyone. Pratchett makes a point early on that Moist cons people, but he doesn’t kill anyone, or even hit people over the head. He starts out as the charming rogue that we want to root for. Having read the book before, I know Pratchett is going to delve into this idea more, and I’m enjoying watching its initial set-up.
3) We’ve also met quite a few rather unusual supporting characters. Who are you most looking forward to reading more about?
Strangely enough, Moist is a relatively normal main character surrounded by even weirder figures. Groat stands out, completely bonkers in some ways but he also has such devotion to the post office, and to the memory of how it used to be. He’s almost a tragic figure–in a really bad toupee!
I’m also really enjoying Vetinari. He shows up in a lot of Discworld books, and I think he gets a particularly good turn in this one. I love that he’s a tyrant who makes things work. I think I’m stealing that phrase from one of the City Guards books, but it describes him so well. He’s always four steps ahead of everyone else, nothing ever ruffles him, and despite a well-deserved reputation for ruthlessness, he always makes things work for the greater good.
4) What are your favorite quotes or moments from this section of the book?
Oh, so many…Pratchett really hits the ground running with the humor. For instance:
Mr. Groat, re: Stanley: “Orphan, sir. Very sad. Came to us from the Siblings of Offler charity home, sir. Both parents passed away of the Gnats on their farm out in the wilds, sir, and he was raised by peas.”
“Surely you mean on peas, Mr. Groat?”
“By peas, sir. Very unusual case. A good lad if he doesn’t get upset, but he tends to twist toward the sun, sir, if you get my meaning.”
I don’t get his meaning at all, but it’s hilarious. If he explained it, it would ruin everything. A more philosophical favorite moment:
“It was…odd to think of all those letters heaped in that old building. You could imagine them as little packets of history. Deliver them, and history went one way. But if you dropped them in the gap between the floorboards, it went the other.”
If you’re participating in the group read, leave a comment with a link to your first post. I can’t wait to see what everyone thinks! And if you’re thinking you’d like to join in, it’s not a long read and there’s plenty of time still to catch up; just let me know, and I’ll send you the questions for next Tuesday’s post.