Wednesday, September 8, 2010


The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare (1908)
By G.K. Chesterton

This is the kind of book that, when nearing its final chapters, optimism takes hold and against your better judgment you nearly expect the resolution to explain the meaning of life and wrap things up in a neatly bundled plot. Of course that's a foolish expectation, especially with a book as absurd and full of paradox as TMWWT. It centers on a Gabriel Syme, a Scotland Yard detective who, upon engaging in a philosophical debate with a poetical anarchist, is led at-first unknowingly to the dynamiter's secret council headquarters, where he must protect his true identity in the midst of violent plotting. Chesterton's prose is full of puns and humor — incredibly well-organized anarchists are a hoot — and clever twists of phrase that push us further down-the-rabbit hole. This is an entertaining farcical mystery on the surface, but his comments on moral relativism, alienation, skepticism, human nature and the way individual impressions shape the world are one-of-a-kind and worth reading. The ending, specifically, is heavy on Christian allegory, but being a Christian is not necessary to enjoying the book (allow me as an example). He may not explain the meaning of life. But, after finishing the novel, people shine in a new light and for a few brief minutes, TMWWT removed my cynicism.  A

The Girl Who Played With Fire (2008)
By Stieg Larsson
This is the second novel in Stieg Larsson's "Girl" trilogy, and it's better than the first one. Not much to say: it's a quick reading mystery-thriller. Well written, plotted, paced and more character driven than your standard consumer fiction. Good stuff. I'm starting to understand why Lisbeth Slander is everyone's favorite new cyber-punk, as the events in this entry are a direct result of her troubled past. The best thing about the book as that it's not a sequel in characters only, i.e., it's not just Lisbeth and Mikael off on an unrelated adventure, but rather a series of consequences of actions taken in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. A-

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