Kelly's Reviews > Defiant Joy: The Remarkable Life & Impact of G.K. Chesterton

Defiant Joy by Kevin Belmonte
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's review
Sep 07, 11

Read from September 01 to 07, 2011

I like the content, but I didn't like the book very well. I thought that what I was reading was a biography and began comparing it immediately to another biography I had read about catholic novelists, but as I read I began to realize what it actually is--a literary survey and study, much like, according to Belmonte, what Chesterton use to produce. Studies, not biographies. Belmote's ideas are quite good, and it's obvious he has taken a huge amount of time and care in gathering his materials, but his use of quotation is both extensive and inexpert, which was the first thing about this book that threw me off. I think Belmonte has potential to develop as a biographer, but I was surprised to learn that this wasn't his first work. I don't think his publishers served him well in urging him to embark or more than a monograph on Chesterton. I lay the blame for any faults in this book squarely at the feet of his editors and publishers.

What this book does well, and what I believe Belmonote intended it to do, is to urge further reading in and about Chesterton himself. If indeed that was his intent, the book is successful, because he certainly proves that Chesterton is delightful and worthy of further study. I certainly could not do better, but frankly this text seems to me to be at the level of student work--dissertation level perhaps, but still student work which could have stood more thorough editing.

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Reading Progress

09/01/2011 page 6
2.0% "Picked this up on a whim as I was exiting the library yesterday. So far I'm not impressed. The style of writing doesn't compare favorably to other biographies I have read. Belmonte quotes extensively, but his own comments and interpositions add little to the narrative such that it would more effective to read Chesterton directly, instead of reading him through Belmonte's eyes. But I am only six pages in."
09/05/2011 page 105
33.0% "Reading Chesterton is like eating chocolate. So is reading novels. So is reading about Chesterton."

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