Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Man Who Was Thursday; Fire and Fragrance; Heretics; River Secrets; When Heaven Invades Earth

There are not many books that strike me as this one did, and I suspect it's because it combines the novel delight (I actually didn't mean to make a pun... sorry) of fiction with the wonderful mind of Chesterton. Beginning with the red-haired woman who forms the one bright flame in a tale of darkness, confusion, fear, and, ultimately, absurdity, the story follows a certain Gabriel Syme, who we quickly discover to be a detective for a special police force. He ends up on an anarchists' council, attempting to take down the top man while fearing for his life at every turn, and through a series of strange encounters, he discovers the absolutely nothing is as it seems. I loved it and would have reread it immediately except that I have far too much to do and too little time to do it in.

This book is basically a rousing call to action by two voices in the 24/7 prayer and missions movements. They're both primarily speakers, so the book reads like a lecture. If I hadn't had both of them as teachers before reading it, I think I would have appreciated it more, because they have some pretty great stories to share and, if you can dig them out, points to make. What impacted me most was the concept of urgency and legacy: living as if the world could end tomorrow while making plans as if you'll live to be 100.

Another volume by G.K. Chesterton... It took me a little while to get into this one, probably because I hold everything Chesterton writes against Orthodoxy regardless of whether that is a fair comparison to make. Nonetheless, as this was the volume that preceded it, it seemed sensible to discover what he was referring to with arguments and contestations.

I don't remember any particulars (it having been well over a month since I read it) except that I enjoyed his defense of bores.

There is no such thing on earth as an uninteresting subject; the only thing that can exist is an uninterested person. Nothing is more keenly required than a defence of bores. When Byron divided humanity into the bores and the bored, he omitted to notice that the higher qualities exist entirely in the bored, the lower qualities in the bored, among whom he counted himself. The bore, by his starry enthusiasm, his solemn happiness, may, in some sense, have proved himself poetical. The bored has certainly proved himself prosaic. (from ch. 3: "On Mr. Rudyard Kipling and making the World small")

This was a quick read. It's the third in the Books of Bayern series, which began with the re-written fairy tale of the Goose Girl. The next two books follow from details and characters in the first story, but they don't do the fairy tale thing.

Basic plot breakdown: Razo is the smallest member of the king's elite guard and doesn't seem like a very apt candidate for the job. When he is chosen to escort a diplomatic party to the country of Tira (with whom they had a war in the second book, Enna Burning), he and many others are rather confused. But then lots of crazy things happen with a radical group that loathes the people of Bayern, and his particular skillset comes in handy to save the day. Hurray! Happy coming of age story replete with intrigue, romance, and all that other stuff.

Bill Johnson is an amazing speaker, and he's a pretty good writer too. The most jarring part was probably the perspective shift, because he approaches life from a completely different angle than even many of his readers (who are likely a rather homogeneous group in most respects). But that just made it all the more challenging. It was intense, profound at times, and always candid. The title pretty much says everything about what it contains.


Brent Waggoner said...

I think more people on this blog have read The Man Who Was Thursday than any other book. It's a really good one though.

Good to have on 50B, Christy. Are you planning on posting a top 10?

Christy said...

Tis true. I'm entertained by how many people have ONLY read The Man Who Was Thursday. There's so much more worth reading by him. Oh well.

If I knew what a top 10 were, I might be inclined to post one. What is that, exactly? Radical guess (ha): top 10 all-time favorite books?

Brent Waggoner said...

Top 10 of the year. generally the folks who are still around at the end of the year make a post with the best things they read. It's great fun for all. There are some examples in the archives:

Christy said...

I'm not a very entertaining review writer, but I suppose I could. It depends on how much time I have... We'll see.