Recently, I finished reading “Going Postal” by Terry Pratchett. A Discworld novel that is about restarting the Postal Service in that universe. But it’s about much more than that. As per usual Terry Pratchett made me chuckle, laugh, snort, guffaw, and otherwise become delighted with a book that sounds like it should be boring. In typical Pratchett fashion, though, the book is more than just a barrel of laughs. It’s a rip-roaring ride and a surprisingly sentimental tale. It’s the sentimental part that literally reached in, ripped out my heart, gave it a good squeeze, and then shoved the offended piece back in, where it continued to beat, but the beat was markedly different.
That’s what a good Terry Pratchett book will do to you. We truly lost someone special the day he passed on. Luckily we have many little pieces of him left to enjoy, and this book is one of the best.
A few housekeeping items before I dive into the actual review. Full disclosure. This review will be sentimental. Yes, I do get bibbledy about books sometimes. Especially when they are… ahem… this stinking good. So, if that’s not your thing, you might want to move along. There are plenty of other things on the internet you could be enjoying right now. Okay, now that is over with…
Only Terry Pratchett could make me weep over a book about mail. Granted it’s about more than that. It’s about a man. A Confidence Man. A Confidence Man named Moist. No really, don’t laugh… A Confidence Man who suddenly runs out of confidence when he finds himself hanging from the end of the noose. Then that Confidence Man meets an angel who gives him a second chance. Except this angel does not have wings or wear a halo. This angel is, in fact, no angel at all, but another man. The Patrician, in fact. A man with a brain so twisty that he makes the halls of a labyrinth look straight by comparison. One thing that the Confidence Man and the Patrician have in common, though, is that they know people. The Confidence Man uses them to get what he wants, usually something for nothing, or something for a very little bit of something else. The Patrician uses them to jumpstart, wheedle, hoodwink, browbeat, and otherwise push along a city full of people into being better, even when they are so desperately fighting back against that concept.
There are schemes, of course. How couldn’t there be? They are the modus operandi of the Confidence Man and come as easy to him as breathing. Hair-raising schemes that are both utterly impossible and ridiculously excellent. These schemes get bigger and bigger all the time, causing the Confidence Man to keep running because if that worked, then why can’t the next thing and the next. Until he meets what others think is unattainable and makes it happen as if it were meant to be.
I’ve always been fascinated by confidence men. Con men, swindlers, cheats… whatever they are called, the term “confidence man” surely fits them better. Because they are confident. They have to be. They have to believe in what they’re selling in order for us to believe it too. In order for us to buy the lie, and we do. Despite our better judgment. Despite that little voice in the back of our minds that whispers… “this is too good to be true”, and “I’d turn back now if I were you”.
In the end, we want to believe. We’re fools for it. It’s why we can believe that a hairy man with a beard who lives in the sky can grant us passage to eternal bliss. It’s why we can believe that little pieces of paper are worth more than a coin made of metal. It’s why we can believe it when we are told as little children that we can be anything we want to be. Because we look at the world and we see it. We see people who have come from nothing and now have everything. We see people who give up something of theirs to lift others up. We also see people who take from others with a callousness that can only be called greed, one of the dirtiest words in the English language. We see people who take life like it means nothing to them or the greater universe. But we don’t see those terrible people or those things when we believe. We see the good stuff. Because we have to. It’s what belief is made of. It’s a magic that is fueled by hope, that sparkling light that lives inside of us and carries our actions to places they might have never gone without it.
The story is about hope. About how hope can not only save a failing business, a failing mythology, but, also, a failing man. It’s about how hope drives us forward in the best and worst of times. How no one is immune to hope, no matter how cynical and worldly they think they are. How hope is a living thing that can pass from person to person. Can swirl around in a group of people, becoming bigger and brighter until it comes back and infects the heart of the person who started it, but did not believe it.
In essence, this book isn’t so much about saving the failing post office as it is about saving people. About how we can run so fast from who we were toward who we want people to believe we are, that sometimes we catch up.
That’s what makes this book so great, and why I needed to read it when I did. Sometimes books happen into your life like that.
And if you have a need to feel some hope, run, don’t walk to get this book. I promise you won’t regret it.
FYI: That’s not an affiliate link below, just a link of convenience. 🙂
Hi, I’m Cassie. I love books and media and think that they have the power to change our lives. I also love to write, play games like Minecraft and ARK, cook, run, and dance. For a living, I provide Digital Marketing and Website Design services under the company I founded Team 3 Media. Currently, I’m working on writing more, learning to bake better bread, and staying consistent with my health and fitness goals.