Andrew's Reviews > Manalive

Manalive by G.K. Chesterton
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's review
Jan 11, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: dunredalready

I finished this book in the midst of a wikkid bad pissy spell, so I think my overall impressions of this book were somewhat mottled by my erstwhile emotional shenaniganzerie.

The story is brilliantly arcane, but I honestly wish I had stopped reading about 10 pages short of the end. Maybe it was the mood I was in, but the tidy resolution of the inconceivable complexities presented in the beginning and middle of the book let me down a little bit. In the end (don't worry, I won't spoil it), I had hoped for a different resolution to the inquisition...something more Hollywoody and fantastical...but I suppose that was Chesterton's desire all remind us that Hollywood is ultimately fake and our own seeming banality is the most fantastical thing we can ever aspire to recapture.

The book is a definite "must-read", if for nothing else than the fact that others have been so greatly influenced by its message. The recommendation of the book came from a trusted friend, at my revelation to her that the year 2010 was to be "a year of release" in my life. While I can greatly appreciate the spirit in which the recommendation was made, I fear I'm still fiercely gripping my mythical curtainrod, and remain completely unconvinced that the ground is a mere 6 inches from the soles of my feet. Perhaps upon revisiting this book (perhaps soon) under a different light, I will respond in a manner more befitting my usual inspiration-hungry self.

I suspect the revelation of the fantastical within the banal was the whole point of the exercise, in Chesterton's mind. There was a "pulling it off" achieved by I. Smith that I couldn't fathom to aspire to in my own life. The origins of his mental meanderings resonated with me quite deeply, but when putting myself into anything approaching a similar situation of being on the receiving end of I. Smith's assaults, I fear I'd respond more like Warner than the Warden.

thank you, Chesterton, for an allegory not to be soon forgotten. Oh to climb trees with abandon and have the courage to set out and rediscover my own green lamp-post...
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Miska I'm with you on the ending, Andy. Didn't love it, but the beginning and middle of the book so captured me, that I just didn't care all that much about the end. What I particularly loved (and thought of when you mentioned your year of release) was the madness and hunger and man-aliveness of Smith. (reminds me of Kerouac's line of "the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk. . .") Smith is a literary character who can show us at least a little bit of what it means to let go and live from a place deep below the surface. I like that.

If you liked Manalive, I bet you'll also like Orthodoxy and The Man Who Was Thursday. At least, I hope so. =)

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