How do you celebrate the birthday for a giant of a man (both physically and intellectually) like Chesterton? My love and respect for him grows with every word of his I read. I don’t want to let this celebration go by without participating in it in some tangible way. Since I gave up cigars lighting one up for him is not an option. So what can you give such a man especially, well like, since he’s dead? And there is no Chesterton Society to dance with anywhere near where I reside.
I live in a small town which has it good and bad aspects. Some of the good things are; you can leave your jacket on the back of the chair in the cafe, and when you go back the next day, it's still there, on the same chair. The other is that the Librarian knows your first name (her name is Deidra). Both of these come in handy for me since I’m forgetful and have a love for the smell of books. The down side is that; the traffic jam in front of you on Main Street is caused by a farmer's combine and the library never has the books I want. So I’ve learned to be patient and take advantage of the inter-library loan program.
This past Thursday I went in to order some of Chesterton’s plays thinking I could get the kids in an English/Theatre class, I’m subbing for this week, to do some readings.
“Chesterton wrote plays?” Deidra asked.
“Well ya.” I said. “Like The Wild Knight", "Magic", and "The Surprise", just to name a few.”, showing off a little. “By the way what books of his do you have here?”
Deidra did a quick computer check and found that they did indeed have Chesterton here, The Father Brown Mysteries. “You should get more.” I told her. And I ran off some other titles, “Like Orthodoxy, Everlasting Man, What’s Wrong With The World. These are great works on theology, philosophy and social commentary.”
“Did you forget where you live? We have a small new book budget so who besides you would check them out, you know, to justify the purchase?” she asked me.
She had me on that one. But I knew the best place for anyone to discover Gilbert is this place.
On the way home I came to realize the best gift I could give Gilbert was to give Gilbert to my town. When I arrived at home I ordered a copy of The Man Who Was Thursday to give to the library. They could put it the Mystery section, since they don’t have a Metaphysical Thriller section. It might lead to other things.
Check out your local library. If they have a new book budget put GKC on their list. If they don’t have the money buy them one, (very few libraries turn down books), to start their collection or increase it. Hand the shinny new book to them and say, “Happy Birthday Gilbert.”