Flann O'Brien: Great, Hilarious Irish Writer
January 28, 2010
Here's a guy who wrote some comic novels that you gotta read. "The Third Policeman" and "At Swim Two Birds" are musts. "The Poor Mouth" is close behind.
"The Third Policeman" features the essence of bicycles and even has them come to life in the way that bikes would: sneakily. And anyone who's ridden a good bike would agree that it's "a power for the hills." He's dry but his level of blarney is unsurpassed as he unveils reality gymnastics like you haven't heard before, delivered by rustic characters.
One wee note about "At Swim Two Birds" is that it features a Gaelic hero of yore, Finn Mac Cool, who interacts with the writers of the story.
"The Poor Mouth" is a send-up of Irish culture revivalists who come from the city in search of the sweet mother tongue being spoken somewhere in the countryside. They run into a family that is poorer than poor. It rains indoors more than out and it rains outside more than anywhere else in the world. The pig is treated as kin. They're poorer than you and than you can even imagine. When you think you've seen the worst, "Oh, that's nothin'..." and on we go into far-out rural parody...and cityfolk parody , too.
Here's a writer who plays gleefully and sharply with multiple storylines and realities. He includes and epitomizes the Irish way -- and its heritage -- yet also sends it up continuously. It's like James Joyce that you can easily read. Heck, he created a wonderful world in footnotes decades before today's McSweeneyites made their lame attempts.
This reviewer says he was postmodern before it was a good idea -- and he may have been spoofing it even then.
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