Wednesday, August 17, 2011
The Third Policeman by Flann O'Brien
(Dalkey Archive Press, 1967 originally)
If you would like to know my exact taste in books moving forward, this is it: The Third Policeman.
The Third Policeman by Flann O'Brien is my exact taste in books.
I finished the book a couple or more weeks ago and remember, when starting the book, thinking, this is incredible, and then when halfway through, this is my favourite book, and then once finished, absolutely, this is my new favourite book, and right now in rememberence, why should I be reading anything else? I need to be rereading The Third Policeman. That's how badly I've fallen for it.
I adore it in equal measure to my previously named favourite among favourites, The Log of the S.S. The Mrs Unguentine.
I already knew that I really really liked Flann O'Brien.
But The Third Policeman...wow.
I don't think that I have the mind and energy at present to really do justice to O'Brien's masterwork, and I don't have any intentions of disclosing in any large degree the plot of the book (something worthy of discovery through the text), but I will say that I have a newly found obsession with the bicycle, both as a machine and as an mindful entity (particularly what I imagine of bicycles that O'Brien was likely writing of, old bicycles of Irish descent running along grass and dirt roads up and down the countryside), for the fabricated philosopher, de Selby, and his particular vein of endlessly nonsensical musings (for which I will have to continue on to O'Brien's The Dalkey Archive), and the ability of a particular fat-fingered policeman to expertly manipulate perfect miniatures of miniatures, infinitely.
Of course, those are vague things that mean nothing to anyone that doesn't know anything about this book, potentially you, but just know that The Third Policeman is brimming terrifically with imagination, absurd humor and this weird tint of something that you might call gorgeous--perhaps just amazingness. It's like that.
It almost feels like I haven't read the book, how little I'm saying about it. I just want you to go in fresh or something.
Here is the first sentence: "Not everyone knows how I killed old Phillip Mathers, smashing his jaw in with my spade; but first it is better to speak of my friendship with John Divney because it was he who first knocked old Mathers down by giving him a great blow in the neck with a special bicycle-pump which he manufactured out of a hollow iron bar." It starts there and then gets better.
(Do I need to mention that Flann O'Brien is actually Brian O'Nolan?)