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The Man Who Was Thursday

I recently read my first work by the highly acclaimed British author, G.K. Chesterton. I've been anticipating a chance to get acquainted with Chesterton for some time and this first book, The Man Who Was Thursday, did not disappoint.

The pace with which Chesterton advances the story is addictive, and his writing style is imaginative, vivid, entertaining and smart. I really enjoyed how he exposes mystery and paradox as the unavoidable and alluring truths of our existence. Each of us is a barrel of paradoxes, floating in the currents of a paradoxical existence. There is more mystery in and around us than we care to admit, and though we like to see mysteries revealed, the unveiling is often unsatisfying at worst or a Pandora's box of new mysteries at best.

The main character, Syme, could not conquer mystery or paradox, but rather got very friendly with both. As the story unravels, you feel as though you are Alice tubmling down the rabbit hole into a world that you don't really understand. The story ends with more questions than it began with. That type of story doesn't translate into a summer blockbuster on the big screen.

I enjoyed this book on many accounts, but among those reasons, I found myself contemplating the extent to which a man would stretch himself to abide by his own word. What will force our hand?

I also enjoyed the fictional primer on 19th century anarchism and the socio-political, economic and spiritual questions that the philosophy invokes.

I was forced to think about the tragedy and comedy that are cloaked in singular ideas, such as peace or grandness. Without strife and battle, we don't know peace. Without a sense of what is big, other-worldly, holy, we don't know smallness or reverence.

Besides, anytime you have a story that includes fencing duels, car chases and disguises, it's got the raw materials of a potentially fun story.

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Mostly, I'm reading Goodnight, Gorilla, There's a Rumble in the Jungle or Fancy Nancy. (Let's be honest. I actually like children's literature.) And at bedtime, Anna has fallen in love with (routine?) my narration of homegrown stories. (In case you're wondering, I'm a terrible storyteller. I wish I were that dad whose stories inspire her to one day look back and marvel at the whimsical, imaginative stories I cooked up at bedtime, but alas, probably not. I'm learning slowly, though, at least about what kind of story she will likely enjoy.)

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