Carnegie Medal winner Frank Cottrell Boyce on a book that is both hilarious and profound…
In case you’re ever asked the question – which book do you wish you’d written? – the correct answer is Truckers . Any other answer is simply wrong. All of Pratchett’s books are interesting of course. He gets more ideas onto the fly leaf than Ian McEwan has got into his entire career. Truckers though is something special, even by Pratchett’s standards. The premise is that a race of gnomes lives in a department store whose slogan is ‘Everything Under One Roof’ – a slogan which they take a bit too seriously. They have come to believe that it means there is no life at all outside the store. They’ve made the store itself into a kind of religion, whose memento mori is ‘Everything Must Go’ and whose Death figure is a demon called ‘Prices Slashed’. The problem is that the store is about to be demolished.
When I first heard the idea, I gasped with envy. But when I read the book my envy evaporated. The idea is both hilarious and profound. But probably only Terry Pratchett could make it that hilarious and that profound. It’s also oddly believable. The exasperating and whiney Granny Morky is one of the most convincing characters I’ve ever come across, while the hero’s unwavering but quietly resented loyalty to her and her fellow gnomes is the kind of emotion that shapes of our lives but seldom appears in literature.
If Voltaire had gone to the Trafford Centre with Jonathan Swift, this is the book they might have written afterwards.
Truckers by Terry Pratchett is published by Corgi (0 552 55108 2, £4.99 pbk). Frank Cottrell Boyce’s latest book, Framed , is published by Macmillan (1 405 04858 1, £9.99 hbk).