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Father Brown G. K. Chesterton

Surprised Smiles This book has been… an interesting one. There’s a really, really big… thing we need to tell you about but let’s get the rest of the review out of the way first. We’d heard a lot about Chesterton’s clever turns of phrase but never actually read anything of his stuff, so it was exciting to get a chance to read some of his mystery stories. And they were pretty short too, so it was easy to keep reading and reading and reaaaaaading.
Quiet Sharky Mhm.
Default Smiles To be completely honest, they’re a little… weird. Some of them are very surreal, but others are weird in a more entertaining way. Like the first story, which I actually found pretty hilarious, which wasn’t so much about the detective discovering the crime and keeping tabs on the criminal, but more about the fact that he keeps causing havoc so that there’s a trail of broken windows, spilled drinks, and overpaid bills for the police to follow. Which they do, the inspector goes haring all about town in a very cartoony fashion. Definitely a great first impression. Sharky loved it.
Quiet Sharky Mm.
Surprised Smiles … yeah. We didn’t like the second story much. It might still be a good story, but I was too distracted by the fact that it involved the death of a character that had really amused me in the first story. And it didn’t even seem like it served up a very good reason for killing him. I don’t know, maybe I’m biased because I’d much rather read about him, he was great, and I can’t even tell you who he is because that would spoil the second story in case you want to read it. The stories after that are… interesting, in one way or another, but the first one just amused me so much that I was kind of disappointed that none of them were like that again. But they were decent, and short, so we kept going through them, right Sharky?
Quiet Sharky
intent-smiles
Quiet Sharky
Sad Smiles 2 Heeeey buddy. You want to join in this review? Maybe?
Quiet Sharky
Sad Smiles 2 Okaaaaaaay. Um. Well I… don’t know what else I can say before we get to the thing, so…
Angry Sharky 2 Right.
Shocked Smiles Oh! You’re joining the review after all.
Angry Sharky 3 I have a lot to say, I was saving my breath. Smiles has been telling you a great story about a book with some interesting things going on with it. Let’s tell a story about a book we refused to finish. Let’s talk about that. Now, I’ve come to terms with the fact that old books can be… problematic. Some are worse than others, like the Doctor Dolittle books that I had to stop reading because there were increasingly detailed chapters about ‘savage africans’ trying to be civilised, or Chronicles of Narnia which I love but still definitely has several books portraying the ‘evil’ people as brown with a heavily middle eastern culture.
Sad Smiles 2 It’s a little… weird for us, loving Narnia when those parts exist.
Angry Sharky Oh my God do you know how awkward it is to read such a fun concept and then have to wade to illustrations and descriptions of a whole race of bad people that just look kind of like your relatives?! When I was younger I passed it off as it being a fairytale style world, so it would probably had a thousand and one nights style area to it. And those stories aren’t exactly the most flattering. But even with all that, I had this weird discomfort having to read through that, which I did, because I really liked the concept of the series otherwise. On my last re-read I just skipped sections.
Sad Smiles 2 So for Sharky and me, mostly for Sharky, this issue is like a very badly scabbed over wound, and Father Brown just picked at it.
Angry Sharky 4 Yeah so LISTEN HERE. There’s a story where one of the characters goes onto this long tangent about how all ‘Eastern’ art is ‘the wrong shape’. Pretty colours, but are otherwise ‘deliberately wrong and bad’ and apparently EVIL and WICKED and the language is not something he understands but he instinctively feels its saying bad things and it looks like SNAKES WRITHING ABOUT. And it might not have been so bad if it was just the one character’s opinion. But another character, in a bit of an awed tone, says he only gets like this when he senses something EVIL. And the NARRATOR, the WRITER of the whole damn book himself, also gets in on the fun with his opinion that middle eastern art is just kind of lucky to fall into shape out of its chaos, and has nothing to teach or represent.
Sad Smiles 2 It’s… yeah. Kind of made me sadder than all of the ‘problematic’ literature instances put together. And Sharky, whoo, he went up like a firework.
Angry Sharky 4 HOW IS THIS EVEN REMOTELY OKAY? HOW IS ANY OF THIS OKAY?!
Sad Smiles I. Um. Think we need to take a break…

One thought on “Father Brown G. K. Chesterton

  1. GK Chesterton’s books are really weird. I read like one Father Brown novel and that was enough. I did really love The Man Who Was Thursday, though. It’s SUPER surreal but such a great story.

    I think anyone who reads older fiction has to face racism and sexism in books at some point, and every reader has their own tolerance levels. I’ve DNF’d a few books because it was just too much, and that’s okay! It’s important to be aware that these attitudes existed and were considered socially acceptable, whether you can read through them or not.

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