Going Postal Group Read, Week Two

It’s Week Two of the Going Postal Group Read!  Here’s the discussion for the next hundred pages of the book:

1)      Pratchett has done some lavish setting descriptions by now, notably the Post Office but also rooms at Unseen University, and other places around Ankh-Morpork.  What’s your favorite one?

I was unusually struck by Pratchett’s setting descriptions in this book–I don’t remember that so much in other Discworld books, though that may also be a product of re-reading and noticing new things.  I love the descriptions of the mountains of letters in the Post Office.  That’s such a fantastic, over-the-top image.  I also loved Pelc’s study, especially this bit: “It was a wizard’s study, so of course it had the skull with a candle on it and a stuffed crocodile hanging from the ceiling.  No one, least of all wizards, knows why this is, but you have to have them.”

2)      In Chapter 7, Moist waxes poetic about the personal nature of letters versus clacks.  This could easily be looked at as email and other online communication versus paper letters.  Do you agree with Moist, or does he exaggerate?  And just for fun, what’s the best piece of paper mail you ever got?

I of course appreciate the speed and convenience of email and other electronic communication, but I do rather regret the demise of paper letters.  I think it’s mostly for their lasting power.  You can talk about the personal-ness of paper letters, but an email can be personal in its contents.  However, I like that paper letters can be saved, and looked at again later.  I suppose emails can be too, but they usually aren’t.  I like letters as history, which they seem to be in a way that emails aren’t.

Best paper mail I ever got…  Certainly the most amusing was when a friend sent me a black spot.  We have a bit of a thing for pirates.  The most glee-inducing letter was when Geraldine McCaughrean sent a personal reply to my letter to her.  VERY glee-inducing!

3)      Share your favorite quotes and moments from this section of Going Postal.

Look, [Moist] said to his imagination, if this is how you’re going to behave, I shan’t bring you again.

Re: the Posthumous Professor of Morbid Bibliomancy at Unseen University:

“Why’s he ‘posthumous’?” Moist asked.

“He’s dead,” said Pelc.

“Ah…I was kind of hoping it was going to be a little more metaphorical than that,” said Moist.

“Don’t worry, he decided to take Early Death.  It was a very good package.”

“Oh,” said Moist.  The important thing at a time like this was to spot the right moment to run, but they’d got here through a maze of dark passages and this was not a place you’d want to get lost in.  Something might find you.

Looking forward to reading others’ thoughts!  Please link your posts below. 🙂

8 thoughts on “Going Postal Group Read, Week Two

  1. ensign_beedrill

    1. I like the post office of old. It sounds way too grand a place for a post office, ha.

    2. Paper letters do just seem more personal. And there’s nothing quite like opening your mailbox to see someone has sent you a real letter or card. Even if they aren’t handwritten, there’s so much care that goes into them. (But handwritten ones are so awesome!) Folded up, put in an envelope, dropped in a mailbox, carried across the state/country/world, straight to you. That’s what’s missing from email. “Oh, this has traveled a long way.” It’s really huge, when you think about it, the postal system. How you can get things to another person many miles away with a very reasonable degree of confidence. All that mail going all those places. Sorted, put on trucks and planes, shipped to distrubution centers, sorted again… what a machine! Sometimes it’s things like this we take for granted, but it really is such a cool, cool thing! Whereas email? You get it the moment its sent. It doesn’t travel anywhere. Instead of traveling the vast network of roads and cities and sorting machines and letter carriers, it travels the Internet, no human interaction necessary.

    Coolest letter I’ve received? I’ll give two. Once, I wrote to the author of my then favorite book series (K.A. Applegate), and asked her some really dumb questions that only an 11-year-old could think up. But she actually answered me back! Along with some standard form letters that were basically FAQ sheets, she’d typed up a letter on some really cool animal stationary (which I thought was so appropriate, since the book series was Animorphs). She answered my questions and was real nice about it and it was soooo cool.

    A couple of years ago, I was in Nebraska and missed seeing my favorite baseball player there. I wanted to get him to sign a ball for me, but I just couldn’t reach him. So I wrote him a letter and sent him a ball along with prepaid postage back to me. Not only did he sign the ball and send it back to me, he wrote a handwritten letter to go with it! Because I’d written him one. Haha!

    3. I don’t have the book with me right now, so I can’t look at my flagged quotes, but I’ll say that I love that Moist seems to be getting into this. It just makes me want to cheer, because this disorganized post office is stressing me out! Get that thing back in shape, man!

    1. Sometimes it is nice to think about things like the Postal Service that we completely take for granted…you sold me on how amazing it really is!

      And aren’t author letters the best? 🙂

    1. Well, yes, I have a whole archive of work-related emails that I sometimes need to refer to…but work-related emails don’t have quite the same romanticism paper letters are imbued with!

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