The Inconvenient Adventures of Uncle Chestnut by Paul Nowak

Title:  The Inconvenient Adventures of Uncle Chestnut (Based on the Life and Works of G.K. Chesterton)

Author:  Paul Nowak

Paperback:  55 pages

ISBN:  0977223493

Miscellaneous:  This book is intended to be the first of a series on “Uncle Chestnut.”

Challenges:  2009 ARC Reading Challenge 

“You see, Jack, an adventure is only an inconvenience considered the right way, and an inconvenience is an adventure considered the wrong way,” said Uncle Chestnut.  “When someone complains about the inconveniences in their life – such as hats blowing away, or drawers getting stuck, or delays at the airport – they are missing the adventure in those experiences they cannot control.  The only thing we always can control is how we react.”

“In other words, we can choose to enjoy life, with all its adventures that take place beyond our control, or we can be miserable with all the inconveniences life hands us.  It’s up to you to choose.”

-page 9

Uncle Chestnut is a great storyteller, and he enjoys telling them as much as Jack enjoys listening to them.  He makes faces, uses voices and acts out parts of the tale he’s telling.  When I read this, my mind immediately went to my sixth grade teacher, Mr. Crawford (whose first name, coincidentally, was also Jack).  Mr. Crawford didn’t teach history to us, he performed it.  His face reflected the Pharaoh as he covered ancient Egypt.  I still remember when he was telling us about Israel’s crossing the Red Sea, and he was pretending to be one of the Egyptian cavalry soldiers pursuing them:  “Whoa, Nelly… you can’t drink that water!” was his command to his horse as “Nelly” was getting ready do sample the wall of water.  Mr. Crawford, like Uncle Chestnut, made the stories come alive.

The Inconvenient Adventures of Uncle Chestnut isn’t a story, specifically, but rather more anecdotal.  In the book Jack, the narrator, is remembering life with his eccentric writer-uncle.  It’s full of wisdom and good sense that’s definitely lacking today.  The author, Paul Nowak, was inspired by G.K. Chesterton, an early 20th century writer who inspired C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkein, Mahatma Gandhi, just to name a few.  More recently, Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett have referenced, credited and even created characters based on Chesterton.

As I first started reading this, I thought it was written by the actual nephew, but I quickly realized that wasn’t possible.  Then I thought maybe Nowak was updating Jack’s diary, or that Jack would turn out to be C.S. Lewis.  It wasn’t until the American Idol reference that I finally understood that this book was really a work of fiction.  Yes, Nowak based Uncle Chestnut on Chesterton and used Chesterton’s work to be as true to him as possible, but it is fiction.  It’s such a surprising little book, not at all what I was expecting.  As it is the first in what the author intends to be a series, I really hope the next book isn’t far off, because I can’t wait for my new favorite uncle to visit some more.

Some little things about the book, though…  The only fault I could really find with it other than the few typos about which Nowak warned in the accompanying letter is this:  It is too short.  I had hardly settled in before it was over.  I’m not saying it to be funny, I really mean that the length of the book actually left a negative feeling.  You know, like when you go to the ice cream shop and order a large, thinking you are really going to get a treat, and they hand you a kiddie cone?  Ultimately, somewhere down the line, it might be a good idea to consolidate books into a 200-300 or so page book.  The other off thing I had to say about it is that it’s supposed to be kinda-sorta a kids book, but I’m not really sure it fits that.  Maybe, IDK… it’s a bit Winnie-the-Pooh like in style, which was actually a very surprising thing to have captivated my kids attention.  I haven’t read this book with them yet, so maybe they would really like it, but it just seems like something the kid inside the grown-up would like.

I really do hope The Inconvenient Adventures of Uncle Chestnutby Paul Nowak catches and takes off, it’s very much a needed book and voice of wisdom and reason that could tip the balance a little more toward sanity than it’s been leaning lately.  I know my copy isn’t leaving my library, so y’all will have to get your own :-)  I know I will re-read this one.  5 out of 5 stars, in case you didn’t catch that I liked it. ;-)

By the way, make sure to check out the book’s site at http://unclechestnut.com/ .  There you can learn more about the man who inspired this book, G.K. Chesterton, as well as search quotes and sign up for the Uncle Chestnut’s quote a day newsletter.

BTT ~ Stickin’ it to ya!

 

saw this over at Shelley’s, and thought it sounded like a great question for all of you:

“This can be a quick one. Don’t take too long to think about it. Fifteen books you’ve read that will always stick with you. First fifteen you can recall in no more than 15 minutes.”

Fifteen books that will always stick with me, right off the top of my head….  K, here goes:

  1. The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson
  2. Matrimony by Joshua Henkin
  3. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  4. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  5. Lisey’s Story by Stephen King
  6. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
  7. The Pearl by John Steinbeck
  8. The Giver by Lois Lowry
  9. The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
  10. Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
  11. Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
  12. The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis
  13. Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman
  14. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  15. A Rumor of War by Philip Caputo

Now, not all are on my top 10 list, oddly enough, and not all of them are what I’d call “great novels.”  Of course, there are many others that will also stick with me, but I’ve written this post while Gwen and Maggie are fighting and tattling, my friend came over to chat and The Departed is playing on the TV, so we’re all lucky Dick and Jane wasn’t the only book title I could think of.

Read-a-Thon ~ Final Tally

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I’m writing this final RaT post on the fly, waiting for our ride to church. When I get back, I’ll write my Sunday Salon post and go a bit deeper about things, but I just wanted to write an official wrap up post.

The last two hours of the Read-a-Thon were looooooooong and slooooooow. The last half hour, I pretty much kept reading over the same lines again and again, never comprehending the bizarre inked symbols pressed into the once-living-tree-material. My last page in Marked was 134.

On the other hand, oddly enough, I’m feeling a tremendous, magnetic pull from one of the families in one of the books I’m writing. The eldest and youngest sisters are fighting and expelling everything they’ve ever thought and felt about the other’s character flaws and bad-daughter-ness. I’ll def have to work them through it later today.

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Reading Totals:

Empire Falls by Richard Russo ~ finished.
The Magician’s Nephew by C. S. Lewis, Chapter Four “The Bell and the Hammer” ~ finished
How to Be a Villian: Evil Laughs, Secret Lairs, Master Plans and More!!! by Neil Zawacki ~ finished :-D
Marked: A House of Night Novel by P. C. Cast & Kristin Cast ~ 134 pages.

Read-a-Thon ~ Takin’ a Break :-)

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As I was reading Marked, I came across the perfect passage to include in the review, so I had to log in and start the review, saving the quote. Sometimes that happens when I’m reading, most of the time, actually. I’ll be reading along and something will just hit me, and I’ll be, like… “Wow, that’s the perfect quote for this book!” When that happens, I always try to get it in here, lest I forget it when I’m actually sitting down and writing the review.

I know what quote I’ll use for How to Be a Villian, but I haven’t got a clue for Empire Falls. That happens sometimes, too, and every once in a while I even think about cheating and putting what’s on the back cover or front flap for the quote.

BTW, the House of Night series has been optioned for a movie. No work has really been done on it, just the plan to make it into film. I can see the spoof-movie now, “Not another Teen Vampire Movie!” Though, this book is NOTHING like Twilight.

If you’d like to check out the series, click House of Night Series. There you can click on the yearbook and learn about the characters, watch vid clips for each of the books, and even get your own vampyre Mark tattoo :-D

Reading Update:

Empire Falls by Richard Russo ~ finished.
The Magician’s Nephew by C. S. Lewis, Chapter Four “The Bell and the Hammer” ~ finished
How to Be a Villian: Evil Laughs, Secret Lairs, Master Plans and More!!! by Neil Zawacki ~ finished :-D
Marked: A House of Night Novel by P. C. Cast & Kristin Cast ~ starting Chapter Six, page 43

Read-a-Thon ~ I Can Now Be a Villian :-D

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YaY! I just finished How to Be a Villian by Neil Zawacki. At the back of the book there’s a template called an Evil Plan Generator, and I thought it’d be fun to post mine here.

Now, my Sinister Name worked out as: Countess Carnal Fury

My Evil Plan is:

Stage One:

To begin, I must first _seduce_ _the Chosen One_. This will cause the world to _whisper among themselves_, _amazed_ by my arrival. Who is this _Destroyer of All That is Good and Nice_? Where did she come from? And why does she look so frightening in that _dominatrix outfit_?

Stage Two:

Next, I must _steal_ _that Opera House in Sydney_. This will all be done from my _Underground Secret Headquarters of Doom_ , a mysterious place of unrivaled dark glory. Upon seeing this, the world will _weep uncontrollably_ , as countless hordes of _Demented Clowns_ hasten to do my every bidding.

Stage Three:

Finally, I must _tauntingly wave_ my _Needlessly Big Weather Machine_ , bringing about _something really, really bad_ . My name shall become synonymous with _fuzzy bunnies_ , and no man will ever again dare _interrupt my sentences_ . Everyone will bow before my _mystical abilities_ , and the world will have no choice but to _restore my credit rating_.

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It was a fun book, and I’ll post a review tomorrow or Monday. For today, more reading! :-D Next, I’m going to read Marked by P. C. Cast. It’s the first book in the House of Night series. It’s a book about a boarding school for the training of teenage vampyres. Coincidently, I talked to a good friend of mine last night, and she started telling me about a book series she was into at the moment, and when I asked her what it was called, she said “House of Night.” I thought that was really cool, since I was planning to read Marked today ;-) Then again, she’s really into vamps (she’s my SL vamp clan’s Queen, in fact), so I shouldn’t be too surprised.

*sigh*… peace and quiet’s over, Gwen’s home and wants to tell me everything that was wrong with my demented idea of sending her to the Y.

P.S. Thanks to everyone who said they love my RaT button :-D It was fun making it, too ;-)

Reading Update:

Empire Falls by Richard Russo ~ finished.
The Magician’s Nephew by C. S. Lewis, Chapter Four “The Bell and the Hammer” ~ finished
How to Be a Villian: Evil Laughs, Secret Lairs, Master Plans and More!!! by Neil Zawacki ~ finished :-D
Marked: A House of Night Novel by P. C. Cast & Kristin Cast ~ just starting

Read-a-Thon ~ Ahh… Peace and Quiet!

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Sammi has gone to her friend’s for the night, and I just sent Mags and Gwen to the Y for open swim and told ‘em not to come back until it closed (4 o’clock). Now, maybe I can get some real reading done!

After upturn laundry baskets (hunting for bathing suits), and piteous cries bemoaning their wretched fate of forced march to their dooms in the swimming pool of torment, my ears are ringing from the lack of sound. The starting and stopping of reading has made me nearly forget which book I’m even reading at the moment!

So I thought I’d take a sec for an update. I’m going to forego another until I finish How to Be a Villian, which is funny! I keep thinking about Austin Powers’ Dr. Evil, and many other evil-doers of film and TV. Even a few of the book giants, too :-D

In the pursuit of evil henchmen, the mean English teacher is highly recommended, as she (or he) has the power to make heroes wilt at the mere thought of her (or him).

Reading Update:

Empire Falls by Richard Russo ~ finished
The Magician’s Nephew by C. S. Lewis ~ Chapter 4, read.
How to Be a Villian by Neil Zawacki ~ pages 88 – 121 read, 39 more to go.

and Maggie’s back. She dropped her swimsuit and had to come back for it. lol… What a day!

Back from Lunch WITH a headache :-\

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After everyone settled down, we made quick work of Chapter Four in The Magician’s Nephew. The kids were quite engrossed with the reading by the time Digory grabbed Polly with his one hand to keep her from slipping her yellow ring on and ringing the bell with the other. They were chanting, “Next chapter! Next chapter!” but it’s one chapter a day, and no more :-) They’re dying to know what magic thing will happen after Digory rang that bell ;-)

We trotted off to the library and lunch, where I got a monster headache and don’t know why, then carted three takeout dinners of lasagna for supper tonight. One less thing to worry about.

So here I sit, ibuprofen consumed, and ready to pick up where I left off in How to Be a Villian. Gwen’s sighing… loudly… for her computer time. I have quite rudely routed her from the chair for my own selfish need to blog an update. Tcha! What was I thinking!

Reading update hour four:

Empire Falls by Richard Russo ~ finished.
The Magician’s Nephew by C. S. Lewis ~ chapter four, pp 45-60, read.
How to Be a Villian by Neil Zawacki ~ starting page 88, “Location for Your Lair: corporate tower” section.

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