Finished listening to the audio of Terry Pratchett's NATION on the drive into work this morning. First, let me say that this book made me laugh out loud. There are some lines that I scribbled down as I was driving down the road so I could recall them later. Others I just let pass in the moment. I am sure the lovely workers at the red light next to me this morning wondered how someone alone in her car could be laughing so loudly. I do think they kept inching forward to make a quick escape in case I exited the vehicle.
In any event, I thoroughly enjoyed this tale of adventure, survival, community, royalty, civilization, and so much more. After a tsunami, Mau thinks he may be the sole survivor of his tiny unchartered island. And then he finds the wreck of a large sailing vessel and a girl who calls herself Daphne. In a classic robinsonade style, Pratchett explores some deeper issues: what does a civilization look like? Who decides what civilization is? What is the role of religion and culture in nation building? Mau and Daphne take in survivors who show up to the island drawn by the smoke of the fires. Slowly, their little island becomes a home and a country of sorts.
The audio is, quite simply, lovely. The narrator uses small changes in his pitch and volume and tone to create the voices of the characters (at first just two, but there are plenty of others later). His delivery is almost British perfect dead pan. The lines that elicit the most laughter, IMHO, are simply a part of the narrative as a whole: no extra emphasis or verbal wink and nudge. If I had the leisure, I would listen to this one again.
At the end of the week, Kathi Appelt and David Small and Patrick Jones and John Green will be at our annual conference. What a great job I have!