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Archive for December 8th, 2009|Daily archive page

The Man Who Was Thursday

In Novel on December 8, 2009 at 12:57 am

The Man Who Was Thursday

Author: G. K. Chesterton
Publisher: Penguin Classic

This book was written in 1908, yet it felt so post modern and cinematic (before movie languages were established). I’m surprised it was never adapted on silver screen. I could easily imagine a Triplets of Belleville treatment: a bizarre, nightmarish and grotesquely comedic visuals with caricatured but iconic characters.

It started off as a thriller story about an undercover policeman infiltrating a secret Anarchist society, with some amusing philosophical discussion on chaos vs. order, nihilism and the most dangerous and destructive criminals being the intellectual, educated kind.

Our hero’s descend into the underground secret Anarchist society is a ‘down the rabbit hole’ experience. From then on the story takes on a wild, fantastical turn. The hero took a misty boat ride that is like traveling to another dimension. There he met the highest order of the anarchist society: a motley crew of seven men who’re named after weekdays. The president is Sunday and was described as a frighteningly giant and fat  (is it wrong that I just kept picturing Jabba the Hutt?). I found Monday, aka ‘The Secretary’, oddly attractive! He’s a slim, handsome, pale and goth looking guy with a devilish smirk. The hero also went on great lengths to describe how scary this one guy with dark spectacle is, because it reminded him of people putting coins on corpse’s eyes…that imagination is lost for us contemporary readers (it’s sunglasses, duh!).

Later on the story turn into a chasing game that’s perfect action comedy gold. It’s a blast to see the band of colorful characters chasing each other. At one point there’s even a flying elephant!

The chase eventually escalated to a garden party that’s like a Borgesque Christian allegory. My jaw drop at the sudden nonsensical and fantastical resolution, but the transition was neither abrupt nor unbelievable. I kept thinking of Alejandro Jodorowsk’s Holy Mountain.

Even though the author is a devoted Christian, he pointed out the “神又係佢,鬼又係佢” paradox in Christian theme.

The book is like a lot of things I’ve read/seen before but never together all at the same time, not to mention it predated them all. Somehow I had the impression of it being a detective thriller (because of the author’s Father Brown series), so I’m pleasantly surprise by how fun and crazy it gets.

The packaging of this Penguin “Boys Adventure” edition is just too cool to pass by. Why can’t more books be in this dimension as well?