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I’m a little heartbroken that he doesn’t have more of a North Jersey accent, but he makes up for it by his choice reading selections: “they’re looking for this guy who’s accused of being a werewolf and he comes into a clearing shaking a baby in his mouth.” Thank you, Danzig. Also, where the hell is his library? In a basement next to an underground pool?

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I recently finished reading G.K. Chesterton’s ‘The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare’, available free online. Though I wouldn’t recommend staring at a screen for three-odd hours (I had little choice in the matter and am fairly sure permanent retinal damage has been done), I can certainly recommend the story. I came across it by accident, and continued on because I liked the title.

It might come off as a bit shallow, but I tend to judge things by their names. Filing papers for a graduate education class, I came across a fellow named Max Steele. By odd coincidence my mom took another education class with him and assured me a) that was indeed his given name and b) he was not a secret agent. Still, that’s the sort of name that gets you promotions in cutthroat Wall Street offices! Maaaax Steeeeele, he’s the man who’s name you’d love to touch! But you mustn’t touch! His name sounds good in your ear, but when you say it, you mustn’t fear! ‘Cause his name can be said by anyone!

‘The Man Who Was Thursday’ pulled me in much the same way Graham Greene’s ‘The Ministry of Fear’ did- you’ve distinct characters suddenly and ridiculously thrown into very dangerous, yet still blackly funny, situations. In the latter a win of cake leads to threats of violence and attempts on his life, and in the former, a philosophical argument ends with a trip to the heart of anarchists’ secret lair and sudden promotion to head of their league. After reading all the way through, I realize more than an action/spy comedy, ‘The Man Who Was Thursday’ is a strong religious allegory about why bad things happen. It doesn’t come off as pious or corny, though I should’ve realized something was up when the first characters introduced were ‘Lucian Gregory’, the red-headed anarchist poet, and ‘Gabriel Syme’, the poetic policeman (see, again with the importance of names). Still, a very entertaining read with wonderful descriptions of place and emotion. This describes the deceased Comrade Buttons, whom Syme replaces as codename Thursday:

“As you know, his death was as self-denying as his life, for he died through his faith in a hygienic mixture of chalk and water as a substitute for milk, which substance he regarded as barbaric, and as involving cruelty to the cow.”

The way most anarchists, save their leader Sunday, are portrayed is almost quaint-they want to throw bombs around like little kids hurling rocks into a pond. Even the very earnest Lucian is undermined by his hissy fits and quick temper. The story also nicely points out why all anarchists are naturally the bored wealthy, similar to my personal experience of all self-proclaimed anarchists being the children of middle-to-upper-class families with no sense of humour.

Almost all of G. K. Chesterton’s works can be found online here, should you care to peruse them.

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