Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Man Who Was Thursday

by Gilbert Chesterton

Read this on a recommendation, and found it quite effective--fast paced, interesting, very unique in feel and extremely amusing. Written in 1908 and shows its age in a number of places, but overall an entertaining and ambitious work. Rather Douglas Adams-ish at points, and lots of great weird situations about police hunting anarchists and vice versa. In the first chapter two men have an intense political discussion about anarchism, the first maintains that it’s all a theoretical stance, not one people are committed enough to actually fight for. The second man disagrees, and as proof breaks secrecy by showing the first man into the center of local anarchist conspiracy. The first man mentions he’s a policeman.

In the second chapter, a lot of other anarchists come in, and prepare to have their local election to choose one member to the position of Thursday, as part of the seven man band. The undercover policeman is still there. The second man decided to try to downplay the whole violent anarchism, and makes his election speech emphasizing calm and moderation, to the disgust of the larger crowd. The policemen claims to be disgusted as well, and gives another speech promising extremism, violence and true war against civilization. He’s elected to the position, to general acclaim. The novel gets even more trippy, fast paced and amusing from there, and forms itself into an intensely engaging and interesting thrill ride. There’s some heavy religious motifs that come in at the end, but as that’s building in with a reality breakdown of epic proportions I found it appropriate to the story. An excellent, utterly distinctive book.

Better than: Going Postal by Terry Pratchett
Worse than: Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

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