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  • A.K. Lee

Book Review| The Truth

Updated: Dec 29, 2021

The truth has got its boots on. And it's going to start kicking.

I have made my admiration of Terry Pratchett very obvious, but I have not really reviewed many of his books, in part because I want to read outside of my favorite novels and in part because I know I won't be getting more of his books to savor and review in the future, so I would rather take my time to review them. That being said, the book I initially chose to review was a lot denser than I'd expected (it's a collection of essays on the theme of death, appropriately titled The Grim Reader; I'll review it when I have finished it) and so I have to resort to reviewing something I have already completed, and what better in this age of misinformation and fake news than The Truth?

I have a degree in journalism, and Pratchett himself worked as a journalist in the early years of his career, so I was keen to find out more about his attitude towards the journalistic ideal of Truth. I remember on my first reading of this novel how delightful it was to see little references to journalism practices and history, but more importantly, how Pratchett respected the foolhardy determination of journalists who risk their lives to get as close to the Truth as they can, even as he poked (gentle) fun at them.

De Worde is a dogged man on a mission, who truly (forgive me, I could not resist) and sincerely believe that there is such a thing as the Truth, something entirely factual, that is important because it affects everyone, something that someone has to care about because otherwise the people will suffer, but as Sacharissa Cripslock points out, "what's true to a lot of people is that they need the money for the rent by the end of the week."

Right now, journalism - actual journalism, the sort where determined and otherwise sane people deliberately get into trouble for reporting - is suffering. Journalists who report news that are not to the liking of powerful people have ended up in prison, or in morgues, or, in many cases, missing. Possibly in many pieces. I was never a professional journalist, but reading such news horrify me, because when the truth - the big Truth - is stifled, then everyone else suffers. We need more people like de Worde, who would think, and dig, and share the information boldly. There are some journalists out there that I follow on social media who are doing such work - Ronan Farrow is one of them - and every day I am thankful that I learned enough as a student how valuable these journalists are to a society, even if a loud minority of the society tries to trample on their work.

As for those who peddle propaganda and hate, who spew lies more easily than they blink... Fuck them.

I don't know what Terry Pratchett would have said were he around to see this sad state of affairs. In a way I am glad he's gone to Death's domain, away from this current mess, but at the same time I wish we still had his sharp wit and righteous anger to cut through all the bullshit that is being shared on social media. We have many others who stand up against the hateful rhetoric and the blatant lies, too, and their voices have to be amplified.

The arc words of the novel is that "a lie will go round the world twice in the time truth puts its boots on", but now the truth has got its boot on, and it's past time to kick. I believe that while the truth, the big Truth, may make us fret or fear, it will also set us free.

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