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Monday, July 06, 2009

The Inconvenient Adventures of Uncle Chestnut

by Paul Nowak

I love the fun, little coincidences that occur from time to time. I was reading Relentless by Dean Koontz recently wherein he quotes G. K. Chesterton several times. I was vaguely aware of the name and knew that it belonged to an author, but I had no idea what he wrote, when he lived or anything else about him. I liked the quotes in the book and vowed I was going to search out more information on the internet about Chesterton.

Before finishing Relentless, I received an offer for an ARC based on the life and works of Chesterton. I was thrilled to accept. The book is written for young readers, maybe 3rd grade and up, but as the author says, "It is the first in a series on "Uncle Chestnut, putting G. K. Chesterton in a more familiar light for young people (and time-pressed adults, too!)" It provided a perfect introduction for me.

This is a book that I will reread many times. One time uplifted my spirits and taught me much, but I will needed to be reminded frequently. The four stories (inconvenient adventures) in this short volume are told from the viewpoint of Chesterton's make-believe nephew, Jack.

One of the stories was based on the often quipped saying that the most important thing is that we need to believe in ourselves. I won't tell you what Chesterton's response was to this except to tell you he didn't believe it.

Another story is about being lost. One quote from that story: "Real happiness is knowing that things of this world will never make us truly happy, and relishing the simple pleasures and new experiences each day until we reach home."

As I did further research on Chesterton I discovered he wrote several mysteries. Oh, yes! One of my favorite quotes was said by him and I didn't even know it: "Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten." This quote is on the back of some, if not all, copies of Coraline by Neil Gaiman.

Those of you have read Good Omens should note that it was dedicated to the memory of G.K. Chesterton: A man who knew what was going on.

Also of note for those of us who have read Neil Gaiman's collection of short stories in M is for Magic, the character of October in October in the Chair, was based on Chesterton.

Please get yourself a copy of this delicious, delightful and wonderful little book. You'll be glad you did. I anxiously wait for the next installment. I so glad Paul Nowak created this work of love and shared it with the world. We needed this.

15 comments:

Gwendolyn B. said...

Well, here's another coincidence for you -- I just received my review copy in the mail today! You're right - it's a fun little book with big messages!

Darla D said...

I'm so glad you liked this! I'm waiting for my copy to arrive. :-)

Booklogged said...

Gwendolyn and Darla, I look forward to reading your reviews.

Gwendolyn, it is a fun little book with big messages. I love Chesterton's reasonable outlook on life.

Darla, hope you are as delighted by this book as I am.

Kristen M. said...

This is a great idea -- bringing classics to a new generation. I'm definitely going to look for it.

Lisa said...

This is an author that I've been meaning to read and just haven't gotten around to it. This sounds like a lovely introduction.

Paul said...

Did Dean Koontz mention Chesterton anywhere, besides quoting him? I now want to read his new book but there's a lengthy hold list at the library. Michael Crichton apparently had quite a bit to say about Chesterton in the end of Next.

Thanks for the review!

Zibilee said...

I am really glad you enjoyed this one. I had not ever heard of Chesterson, but it sounds like he had some incredible insight to life. I will probably wait until this series is complete before picking it up, but I will be reading it. Thanks!

Booklogged said...

Kristen, I agree that it's a great idea and I think one that will be enjoyed by a wide audience.

Lisa, I tried to find something by Chesterton at our local library but they didn't have anything. Will have to turn my efforts to online searching.

Paul, only a couple of Chesterton quotes from Koontz. Thanks for the tip about Next.

Zibilee, this series is like a typical series, it's more a collection of stories that could be read in any order. I wouldn't wait if I were you.

Paul said...

Zibilee,

Booklogged is right, they are not going to be in a particular order; each story stand on its own (like Sherlock Holmes) and each book will focus on a different aspect of Chesterton and his view of life; the next one will likely be about his take on fairy tales.

Paul said...

The *most* complete list of Chesterton's books, essays, and poetry online can be found here:

http://www.cse.dmu.ac.uk/~mward/gkc/books/index.html

If you like mysteries, I suggest starting with any of the Father Brown stories.

The Man who Was Thursday is a surreal fiction thriller.

Manalive is about to be a movie.

Orthodoxy and Everlasting Man are non-fiction, and considered his best work. Everlasting Man was written as a response to his friend H.G. Well's "Outline of History."

Framed said...

I have a book sitting on the shelf that has 24 short-story Father Brown mysteries. You're welcome to borrow it as I'm not planning on reading it any time soon.

Iliana said...

I love those wonderful synchronicity moments that lead us to other books, authors, etc. This does sound really cute and will have to put it on my list!

Booklogged said...

Paul, I want to thank you for your comments. It is always nice to have an author make comments, but especially so when you they are so helpful. I appreciate knowing about the Crichton book and a brief description of Chesterton's books.

I see that I left out a critical word in my comment to Zibilee. It should read, "This series is NOT like a typical."

Framed, I would love to borrow your book and read the Father Brown stories. Thank-you.

Iliana, synchronicity is a fun word and also a fun occurrence, usually. I think you'll really enjoy the Uncle Chesterton stories.

Aarti said...

This book and series sounds fantastic! I think I get Chesterton confused with Lord Chesterfield, the guy who wrote letters to his son on how to comport himself in good society. I have Chesterfield's letters, but nothing by Chesterton. I am off to a book fair on Saturday, though, so will be on the lookout!

I also really like the layout of your blog- the colors are great for a book blog!

Cath said...

Thank you for pointing me in the direction of this post. This book about Chesterton sounds perfect as I've just finished a book of his Father Brown stories, as you know. I think Chesterton must have been an amazing and interesting man. This URL:

http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/c/g-k-chesterton/

will take you a page listing his fiction and non-fiction. It's a very long list! I'm dying to read some his essays now, they would do for my Essay challenge in fact. Thanks again.