Thursday, March 18, 2010

Not Like the Others

“[G.K. Chesterton] did so many other odd things that chances are nobody much noticed. He was continually losing his way, sometimes within a stone’s throw of his own house – or even in his own house, he claimed – forgetting things, losing track of what time or even what day it was, and drawing pictures on blotters, napkins, walls, virtually any surface that presented itself.

“An endless torrent of articles, reviews, essays, and poems tumbled from his pen, and often he composed them on the run – in a tea room, on top of a double-decker bus, standing in the doorway of a shop, or leaning against a wall scribbling in pencil in a penny exercise book or sometimes just on his cuff. He read as continuously as he wrote, and his friend Father John O’Connor, the prototype for Father Brown, the most famous of his fictional characters, said that when he finished with a book, it looked as though ‘It had gone through every indignity a book may suffer and live. He turned it inside out, dog-eared it, penciled it, sat on it, took it to bed and rolled on it, and got up again and spilled tea on it.'

“He was in his twenties when he started carrying a sword-stick whose blade sometimes slipped out and went clattering to the pavement as he moved about the London streets. His younger brother, Cecil, maintained that it was not an affectation but that he carried it because, in his romantic imagination, he always dreamed of being caught up in some amazing adventure in which he would need it for defending himself.”

Fredrick Buechner, in Speak What We Feel, pp. 85-86

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