In the seventh part ofÂ Reaper Man, Windle Poons meets his fellow undead; Bill Door meets Miss Flitworthâ€™s parlor. Intrigued? Then itâ€™s time for Mark to readÂ Discworld.
Ah, that wonderful combination of humor, bitter truths, and sadness. I feel like Pratchett is getting better at this with each book. I mean, look: it is unbelievably funny to think about half of the shit in the Fresh Start meeting. A bogeyman who wonâ€™t come out from the shadow under a chair. An honorary member who is a wereman / reverse werewolf. An undead activist who works at a mortuary and conducts recruitment meetings by shouting in cemeteries. ITâ€™S SIMPLY TOO MUCH.
And yet, itâ€™s still brutally sad to think about because all of these people are deeply lonely, and they know it. They hide their sadness and their dejection through jokes or anger or eye rolls, and the worst part is that they allÂ knowÂ it. Even Reg Shoe, whoâ€™s the cheeriest and most motivated of them, is most likely not as happy as he seems to be. (I realize Iâ€™m probably projecting here because THIS IS ME TO THE LAST DETAIL, so Iâ€™ll be ready to admit that I interpreted this character wrong once I learn more about him.) At best, heâ€™s trying to deal with an unfortunate situation as positively as he can, thus the existence of Fresh Start. But is that something these peopleÂ need?
I think that they might in the long run, but in the immediacy of the undead existing in the Discworld, these people just want to live their lives without attracting anymore attention. There are some examples given here â€“ such as Arthurâ€™s story about Reverend Welegare â€“ that paint a picture of undead life. (I suppose we can count Lupineâ€™s trouser problem, too. Wow, thatâ€™s a weird fucking sentence to type.) Obviously, thatâ€™s different for each of these people, since theyâ€™re not all zombies. Weâ€™ve got a banshee, two vampires, a wereman, a bogeyman, a zombie, and Reg. Whatâ€™s Reg? I canâ€™t quite remember. Regardless, they all know that the living look upon them with disgust and fright. On top of that, there are logistical concerns they each have to deal with now:
â€œDo you know people can say what they like about youÂ andÂ take away your property, just because youâ€™re dead?”
Obviously, the joke is that theyÂ didÂ die, but people normally donâ€™t keep â€œlivingâ€ after death. But what if this keeps getting worse? What if the undead continue to lose their possessions? Their jobs? I mean, this is some genuine oppressive shit, isnâ€™t it? In that sense, I could see how Fresh Start might become necessary if more undead continue to show up in Ankh-Morpork. Hell, thereÂ haveÂ to be more undead, right? Death still doesnâ€™t have a replacement, and people die every day. So what happensÂ next? I donâ€™t imagine that the harassment these people face is going to end.Â Theyâ€™re still viewed as monsters by the general public, and itâ€™s only a matter of time before everyone turns on them. Right?
Even on a personal level, Windle feels like heâ€™s drifting. As a whole, the undead are just trying to do their best in the midst of an existential crisis. You can see that specifically in Windle, who has to accept that he needs to move out of Unseen University, a place heâ€™s called home for over a century. A wizard, not living at the University! Itâ€™s a strange thought, but this is now a strange world, and Windle is trying his best to adapt.
I think you could say the same thing of Death, who as Bill Door is still navigating his own strange form of humanity. Life at Miss Flitworthâ€™s farm has settled down to a routine that must feel familiar for Death, whose entire life was full of them. Which is why itâ€™s very surreal and kind of touching to see Miss Flitworth invite him into her parlor. Is it out of loneliness? A desire for company? Some other reason? I sense itâ€™s the former, given the dilapidated state of the room. Had she used it for anything since she lost her father? Since her man had run out on her, possibly deserting her? (HOW FUCKING SAD IS THAT EXCHANGE, Yâ€™ALL???? HELP ME.)
As awkward as their conversation was at times, I still found it to be sweet. This is new for both of them â€“ more so for Death, of course â€“ but theyâ€™re trying. Badly and uncomfortably and without the sort of dramatic wit and brilliance most people seem to have, but itâ€™s happening nonetheless. Sometimes, life is lived gripping the arms of a chair while you sit in silence.
The original text contains use of the words â€œidiocyâ€ and â€œstupid.â€
Mark Links Stuff
– Please help book/finalize the Mark Does Stuff European Tour!
– I am now on Patreon!!! MANY SURPRISES ARE IN STORE FOR YOU IF YOU SUPPORT ME.
– The Mark Does Stuff Tour 2015 is now live and includes dates across the U.S., Canada, Europe, the U.K., and Ireland. Check the full list of events on my Tour Dates / Appearances page.
– My Master Schedule is updated for the near and distant future for most projects, so please check it often.Â My next Double Features for Mark Watches will be the remainder ofÂ The Legend of Korra, series 8 ofÂ Doctor Who, and Kings. On Mark Reads, Diane Duane’s Young Wizards series will replace the Emelan books.
-Â Mark Does Stuff is on Facebook!Â I’ve got a community page up that I’m running. Guaranteed shenanigans!