Thursday, 15 February 2007

REVIEW: The Third Policeman by Flann O'Brien.

I've just finished reading Flann O'Brien's Third Policeman, and I've just realised I've never really read any Irish authors before. Now I'm wondering if I've been missing out because The Third Policeman is a wonder to read. It's silly, and there are plentiful amounts of wtf moments, but it's a good kind of silly.

The story is narrated by a student of the philosopher, de Selby, who remains nameless throughout the book. After committing a murder, he is thrown into a series of extremely absurd events that include meeting a one-legged man, policemen who are obsessed with bicycles, an explanation of the atomic theory, omnium (you can create anything with Omnium), and a left-turn to Eternity.

Strewn in between the narrative are footnotes quoting the ridiculous theories and experiments that de Selby comes up with; for example, the theory that night happens because of darkness particles polluting the air, or how if you reflect enough mirrors together, you can see yourself when you're younger, since light is slowed down. The footnotes add to the madness that is the main narrative, and even threaten to take over the book at one point, when de Selby's critics are discussed.

It's too bad I don't have the book with me right now, I'd love to give a sample of O'Brien's writing. It's so lovely and witty I kept rereading the page I was on, awed at his use of the language.

I now look forward to reading his first novel, At Swim-Two-Birds.


  1. Lovely book -- the inspiration to name my music label Omnium.

  2. A lovely name to name a music label. Congratulations.


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