Mort is a smart teenager who doesn’t quite fit in on the family farm. His father takes him to the job fair to find him an apprenticeship. He is finally selected, by Death, the Grim Reaper. Mort learns how to help the dead pass to the other side, how to walk through walls, and other useful skills. He gets to know Death’s daughter (adopted) and the butler. Then Death takes a break for night and Mort does something ill-advised, because, as teenagers are wont to do, he becomes infatuated.
From the very clever premise stems a story about growing into your own self. Mort goes from subservient apprentice shoveling horse dung to young man of principle and action. Disguised behind Mr. Pratchett’s smoothly ironic, deadpan style and many, many hilarious situations is an insightful treatise on the nature of life, death and personal development. The scenes when Death tries out various human activities like fishing or attending a job interview are laugh-out-loud funny, cleverly exposing how most things that humans do are, in fact, quite silly in one way or another.
On the Discworld, which is a disc-shaped world sat on four gargantuan elephants, which in turn stand on the back of a titanic turtle sculling through the cosmos, the failed magician Rincewind and the tourist Twoflower meet. Shenanigans ensue, some involving sapient luggage.
Mr. Pratchett’s first Discworld novel starts somewhat slowly, but builds a decent head of steam by the end. The plot is not much more than a series of humorous events connected by the desire to make stuff happen to the hapless Rincewind and the clueless Twoflower, and in some strange way it works.
Nombeko Mayeko is born into poverty in Soweto during the Apartheid era. From childhood, she has worked as a latrine emptier. Despite a lack of formal education, she is a maths prodigy and possesses considerable street smarts. Through a series of unlikely events, she ends up in Sweden in possession of an atomic bomb. Here her life continues together with Holger 2, the non-existent (at least as far as the authorities are concerned) twin of Holger 1, a radical republican who wants to bring down the monarchy.
Because of its nature as a sequence of very unlikely, but nevertheless often humorous events, the story requires a complete suspension of disbelief, and is perhaps best read as a naif satire combined with situational comedy. The book is written in a very dry humor that turns what would normally be sad or infuriating situations into laugh-out-loud farces.
The characters are quirky, interesting and, while most are just as unlikely as the story, deeply charming. Even “The Idiot” and his girlfriend “The Angry One” engage the reader in their adventures.
On a deeper level, the story can be seen as a triumph of human ingenuity over adversity, with themes touching on how people will continue to seek a normal existence and happiness no matter what is thrown at them.
Written by the director of Bowling for Columbine and Fahrenheit 9/11, it is a very funny series of essays pretending to be a complete book. If you don’t feel much sympathy for President George W. Bush (denominated “son-of-a-Bush” in this book) and the American political/societal system in general, you will probably enjoy this. It takes some tragically fun true facts about America and just plain tells it the way it is. I found myself nodding a lot, and being sad a lot. Despite the humorous language, the subject matter is deadly serious. America is in bad shape, tells us Michael Moore.
The book has a big left-wing bias, but it is thought-provoking and a fun read. Satire becomes Mr. Moore.
This starts off very well. It is a satire on globalization. The free market is everything and people change their last names to that of the company they work for. Take Mr. Hack Nike, for example. He is hired by the marketing department of Nije to stir up hype for a new line of trainers. The plan is for him to kill a couple of customers in order to give the product “street cred”. He subcontracts the job out to the Police. The government is weak and only handles crime. Jennifer Government is a government agent who used to work for an advertising agency. Definite Shades of “Snow Crash“.
This book is very clever in many ways, but disappoints in others. The story and characters are not much in themselves, but work pretty much only as vehicles for the author’s admittedly excellent satire. The novelty of the whole globalization run rampant idea wears off pretty soon, but it’s a fun, light-hearted read that kept me going until the end.