I have a confession to make: If I had to pick one favorite modern author, it would be Terry Pratchett - and not just in an "oh, he's so funny and clever" sort of way. No, it's much more in a "Granny Weatherwax is my role model" sort of way. And a "the way that his heroes are steadfast folk who do the job in front of them has helped me define my personal philosophy" sort of way.
I've read Penguin Classics and Norton Anthologies. Books that have made deep and lasting marks on American culture. Books that will Knock you Over the Head with Humanity, and Courage, and Death. But still, when I think of Loyalty I'm most likely to picture Rob Anybody shaking his Wee Free fist, and when I consider Justice, it brings to mind Commander Vimes arresting two armies for endangering the peace.
I won't argue that Pratchett delves as deeply into the big issues as, say, Steinbeck or Dostoevsky or Atwood. But he always makes me laugh first (and during and after) - which is absolutely disarming. That, if nothing else, gives him a leg-up on old Steinbeck, who never even convinced me to chuckle.
And so, while I don't have Mr. Pratchett's brand of quick wit, I do try to remind myself that if I want my audience to appreciate a knock over the head with a frying pan, I'd better serve them a couple of eggs (sunny side up) and some bacon first.