Book Review: “Small Gods” (1992) by Terry Pratchett

 

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Cover art by Marc Simonetti.

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After Pyramids (review here), I decided to continue on the “Ancient Civilisations” path and picked up Small Gods as my next Discworld read. In this installment, we follow the formerly great god Om as he and his prophet Brutha as they battle zealotry, discuss the nature of belief, and try to restore Om to his former glory. As a classics nerd with an interest in philosophy and mythology, watching Pratchett throw around references to Archimides, Diogenes, and the Library of Alexandria is a ton of fun as well as a great challenge; every time I could whisper “I see what you did there Pratchett” to my book, I felt a small sense of accomplishment. See that Marcus Aurelius joke there? I caught that! Go me!

However, there is a lot more to this book than Horrible Histories-worthy slapstick. Like all Discworld books, Small Gods has a fundamental question at its core, only barely covered up by a layer of jokes.

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Book Review: “Jazz” (1992) by Toni Morrison

Archibald J. Motley, "Nightlife" (1943).

Archibald J. Motley, “Nightlife” (1943).

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 Jazz is a peculiar book because it is more a stylistic exercise than a regular novel. Morrison set out to create a work that would not just be about the jazz age, but actually become it; she did not design the novel’s structure to enhance meaning, but to equal it. Jazz is not a book you read for the plot (it’s all right there on the very first page, no twists beyond that point), but for the language, the rhythm pumping through the lines, the taste of it. In an interview with the Paris Review, Morrison said that it was the most intricate thing she had ever done, “a very simple story about people who do not know that they are living in the jazz age and to never use the word.”

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