Mark Reads ‘Unseen Academicals’: Part 10

In the tenth part of Unseen Academicals, Glenda and Juliet attend a fashion show; the wizards play football. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld. 



So much of this book has been about change. Thus, it felt fitting that the beginning of this split mentioned Vetinari’s “Grand Undertaking” and also further showed us how much the dwarfs have changed. Seriously, women dwarfs are creating their own fashion! Changing how they do their beards and their hair! Making modifications to their armor!!! I love the richness in detail that Pratchett provides us in these passages as we descend below Ankh-Morpork for the fashion show. 

It’s not just dwarf culture that is explored here, though. I spoke a little bit on video about what it’s like to enter high class spaces when you don’t read that way. And there are so many possible markers that could trigger this sort of reaction, too. I tend to get it because I’m brown, tattooed, and have a beard. I cannot count how many times people have mistakenly identified me as a server, a waiter, a busboy, a janitor, a trash man… you get the idea. And there is nothing wrong with being any of these things; I’ve actually been a busboy before. But it’s something I’ve experienced a lot in the last year in my life traveling for Anger. My publisher treats me well and the travel agency they use has booked me in some truly stunning hotels that I would otherwise never be able to stay in. In almost all of them, I’ve felt the sensation Glenda describes: 

She approached the door with the apprehension of one who is certain that the moment she sets foot inside she will be charged five dollars a minute for breathing and then be held upside down and have all her wealth removed with a hook.

HI, DEEPLY RELATABLE, HAVE ABSOLUTELY EXPERIENCED THIS, TOO. And I’m learning to sort of… assert myself in these spaces? To be myself and not believe the silly notion that I don’t belong here because my financial is mere pennies compared to other people. Life’s too damn short not to enjoy nice things like this. Granted, I’ll never feel at home in bougie-ass places, but STILL. 

So I appreciated that texture in the story! And the same goes for what little I know and have experienced in the fashion world. (I have some friends here in NYC and out in LA who are heavily involved with it.) Pratchett toes the line between satire and appreciation. There’s the absurdity of wealth, cuisine, and style, but also… I know Pepes? I truly do!!! I feel like the coding here is deliberate, and I’m curious if we’ll see more of Pepe in the coming pages.

While most of this concerns Juliet’s possible rise as a model, I did love that Glenda went full MANAGER on Madame, got Juliet a better rate AND a discount at the shop, and did it with no hesitation. Perhaps this is something she might pursue? I don’t know, she’s so good running the Night Kitchen, but she immediately leapt to getting Juliet what she deserved and what she knew Madame would pay. Honestly, Glenda is such a loyal, protective friend to the people in her life. So it’s not so much that she is suited to be a manager or an agent; she’s just suited to being a great fucking friend!

The Wizards Play Football

All I wanted was a mess.

I got a mess.

And it was a mess before a single second of the game had been played. Choosing the teams was a nightmare, and I say that as someone who was PERPETUALLY PICKED TOWARDS THE END. I have really bad hand-eye coordination and everyone knew it!!! I was also the super nervous one!!! This is why I ended up sticking with cross country and track. You were either good enough for the seven spots on the varsity team or you just… ran with everyone else. With track, I think there were 2-3 spots per team? Either way, none of this choosing stuff! We also didn’t have a whistle that blew out the lodged spirit of Evans the Striped, but our coach for both teams did sound a whole like like Evans. Why is there like… one voice that coaches have? I swear! The accent might be different, but the pitch/tone is identical across the board. 

Anyway, I am just so pleased that the first match between the wizards was pure chaos. It is exactly what I expected, and Pratchet delivered. Look, the list of “problems” that Ponder pointed out was bad enough—THEY DIDN’T REMEMBER THEIR OWN TEAMMATES AND COULDN’T TELL BECAUSE OF THEIR LACK OF UNIFORMS—but that long monologue Stibbons gives about what the wizards need is a work of art. It’s literally everything. Glenda was right. They need literally EVERYTHING to understand football because they got fucking EVERYTHING wrong. This part was my favorite: 

‘Out of the three goals scored in our match, the number scored by players into their own goal was’—he paused and looked down at his clipboard—‘three. This is a commendably high level of scoring, compared with football as currently played, though once again I must stress that issues of direction and goal ownership are of pivotal importance.’

They are walking disasters, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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