The Quotable Pratchett: Going Postal

No one is actually dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away

With the passing of Sir Terry Pratchett and the publication of The Shepherd’s Crown, I embarked on an epic re-reading of all 41 official Discworld novels, with the goal of finishing by 31 December, 2016.

Famous for its wit and wisdom, the series offers countless quotable quotes on a variety of subjects. The quotes I share should not be considered the whole of Sir Terry’s excellent prose; indeed, they are the tasty appetizers to a succulent, nourishing meal.

About Going Postal

This is the 33nd Discworld novel, the 4th in the Industrial Revolution story arc, and in the 1st in the Moist von Lipwig series.

going-postal-coverAngels. Oft talked about, seldom seen, and we only get one . . . maybe.

After encountering a decidedly un-angelic angel, Moist von Lipwig turns not-so-completely from his life of crime as a conman to running the long-defunct Ankh-Morpork Post Office. Where others have gruesomely failed (thanks to B.S. Johnson’s New Pie), Moist must succeed, for “neither rain nor snow nor glom of nit can stay these mesengers abot their duty.” After all, it is a job for life.

But what is life if not messy? Moist must also go head-to-head with Reacher Gilt, owner of the Clacks (i.e. The Enemy) and master conman himself.

Aided by pin enthusiast Stanley, self-medicating Mr. Groat, the golem Mr. Pump/Gladys, and rather reluctant Golem Rights Activist Adora Bella Dearheart, Moist must save the Post, expose Reacher Gilt, and atone for past wrongs. Now, if only he could find the Smoking GNU . . .

Good thing the job comes with a golden suit and wingéd hat, or things could get really ugly.

5 stars

The Goodreads Blurb:

Arch-swindler Moist Van Lipwig never believed his confidence crimes were hanging offenses – until he found himself with a noose tightly around his neck, dropping through a trapdoor, and falling into…a government job?

By all rights, Moist should have met his maker. Instead, it’s Lord Vetinari, supreme ruler of Ankh-Morpork, who promptly offers him a job as Postmaster. Since his only other option is a nonliving one, Moist accepts the position – and the hulking golem watchdog who comes along with it, just in case Moist was considering abandoning his responsibilities prematurely.

Getting the moribund Postal Service up and running again, however, may be a near-impossible task, what with literally mountains of decades-old undelivered mail clogging every nook and cranny of the broken-down post office building; and with only a few creaky old postmen and one rather unstable, pin-obsessed youth available to deliver it. Worse still, Moist could swear the mail is talking to him. Worst of all, it means taking on the gargantuan, money-hungry Grand Trunk clacks communication monopoly and its bloodthirsty piratical head, Mr. Reacher Gilt.

But it says on the building Neither Rain Nor Snow Nor Glom of Nit…Inspiring words (admittedly, some of the bronze letters have been stolen), and for once in his wretched life Moist is going to fight. And if the bold and impossible are what’s called for, he’ll do it – in order to move the mail, continue breathing, get the girl, and specially deliver that invaluable commodity that every human being (not to mention troll, dwarf, and, yes, even golem) requires: hope.

To the Quotes!

Discworld Librarian

The Librarian as he appears in The Discworld Companion, illustrated by Paul Kidby


People who step on to the air one hundred and fifty feet above the ground seldom have much to discuss afterwards.


Fruit baskets is like life: until you’ve got the pineapple off’f the top you never know what’s underneath.


People were strange like that. Steal five dollars and you were a petty thief. Steal thousands of dollars and you were either a government or a hero.


I commend my soul to any god that can find it.


Sometimes, very rarely, at a point in a man’s career where he has made such a foul and tangled mess of his life that death appears to be the only sensible option, an angel appears to him, or, I should say, unto him, and offers him a chance to go back to the moment when it all went wrong, and this time do it right.


Always move fast. You never know what’s catching you up.


There is a saying ‘You can’t fool an honest man,’ which is much quoted by people who make a profitable living by fooling honest men.


Anyone who couldn’t simply remember where he’d stashed a great big fortune deserved to lose it, in Moist’s opinion.


Moist saw that it had a beard of the short bristled type that suggested that its owner had been interrupted halfway through eating a hedgehog.


The common comma had looked at Stanley’s expression and decided not to disturb him.


Being an absolute ruler today was not as simple as people thought. At least, it was not simple if your ambitions included being an absolute ruler tomorrow. There were subtleties. Oh, you could order men to smash down doors and drag people off to dungeons without trial, but too much of that sort of thing was bad for business, habit-forming, style-lacking, and very, very dangerous for your health. A thinking tyrant, it seemed to Vetinari, had a much harder job than a ruler raised to power by some idiot vote-yourself-rich system like democracy. At least he could tell the people he was their fault.


Who will tell the tyrant he is a tyrant?


Speak softly and employ a huge man with a crowbar.


Man’s not dead while his name is still spoken.


The wizards from Unseen University had been jolly interested in the problem, like doctors being really fascinated by some new, virulent disease; the patient appreciates all the interest but would very much prefer it if they either came up with a cure or stopped prodding.


He liked the kind of business where you could actually speak to the man whose name was over the door; it meant it probably wasn’t run by crooks.


You have made quite a splash . . . as the fish said to the man with the lead weight tied to his feet.


That was an important rule of any game: always make it easy for people to give you money.


They get so mad even ordinary mad people think they’re mad.


You had to hand it to golem tailoring. The suit was so black that if it had been sprinkled with stars the owls would have collided with it.


An imagination is a terrible thing to bring along.


There’s no stink more sorrowful than the stink of wet, burned paper . . . it means: The End.


The smell of sausages is always better than the actual sausage.


Rumor rose in the streets of Ankh-Morpork like mists from a midden.


You should promise to do the impossible, because sometimes the impossible was possible, if you could find the right way, and at least you could often extend the limits of the possible. And if you failed, well, it had been impossible.


The best way to get something done is to give it to someone who is busy.


Sometimes the truth is arrived at by adding all the little lies together and deducting them from the totality of what is known.


The people who guard the rainbow don’t like those who get in the way of the sun.

. . .

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