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The Third Policeman
by Flann O'Brien
A comic trip through hell in Ireland, as told by a murderer, The Third Policeman is another inspired bit of confusing and comic lunacy from the warped imagination and lovably demented pen of Flann O'Brien, author of At Swim-Two-Birds. There's even a small chance you'll figure out what's going on if you read the publisher's note that appears on the last page.

From: Sherry Keller Date: Tuesday, July 15, 2003 10:35 AM This is one of the most original books Iíve ever read. Itís funny, silly and light and dark all at once. Imagine Alice in Wonderland meets Kafka directed by Terry Gilliam with a bit of Three Stooges thrown in for good measure. My adviceódonít read the Introduction until after the book. So, besides Ruth, who else is up for this wild ride? Itís hard to talk about the thing as a whole until after you read the end. My favorite character is Joe, the narratorís soul. Now Iím on a name search for that little voice in my head. Maggie? Prudence? The Third Policeman is short, so I hope all of you give it a go. Sherry
From: Jean Keating Date: Tuesday, July 15, 2003 11:30 AM I'll give it a try when I can get it from the library. Jean K.
From: R Bavetta Date: Tuesday, July 15, 2003 01:27 PM I enjoyed my second reading as much as the first. It's a bit like Alice that way, too. The first reading you're plowing ahead for the story. It's on the repeat readings that you become aware of all the linguistic gymnastics. Will I ever be able to see a man leaning with his elbow against the wall again, without bursting into laughter? R
From: Jane Niemeier Date: Tuesday, July 15, 2003 09:11 PM I must weigh in as the minority report here. Even though I love literature from the absurd school such as WAITING FOR GODOT and THE BALD SOPRANO, I did not like this book. I did not find it funny, and I found it difficult to finish. Unfortunately, I read the introduction before I read the book, so I knew the ending. I did like the whole bicycle explanation and the fact that the so-called heaven was down instead of up. Jane
From: Dean Denis Date: Tuesday, July 15, 2003 09:15 PM When I saw that this was available at the local library I was disappointed to find that it was in "transit hold." When I checked again a week or so later the status was the same so I went to the library to inquire further. The librarian was puzzled and told me to look on the shelf. I did and there it was. I laughed out loud to read about de Selby's experiments with mirrors and rejuvenation limited as they were by the curvature of the earth and the limitation of telescopes and the bicycle shaped coffin. All roads lead to roam. Dean
From: R Bavetta Date: Thursday, July 17, 2003 12:53 PM There are so many themes running around this book. The book was written in Ireland in 1940, so some of the socio-political commentary is bound to pass us by. One obvious one is the story of the guy who went up in a balloon, and the comment made about Home Rule. But we've plenty on our discussional plate, what with the unsparing send-up of the police, and the theme of unending guilt (which reminded me of Crime and Punishment), not to mention the cruel satire of the scientist/philosopher de Selby and those footnotes. Jane says she saw the underground chamber as a version of heaven. In the book it's referred to as eternity. Never crossed my mind that it might have a religious interpretation. But that's just me. How about the rest of you? What do you think that bit was about? R
From: Sherry Keller Date: Friday, July 18, 2003 09:09 AM I think that the bit about "eternity" was in there to confuse readers, since we didn't realize the narrator's state (it's hard to know how to refer to him, since he is unnamed). An eternity within an eternity? I didn't see it as heaven either. It seemed like an added frustration, since all the goodies you could get from there couldn't be carried back into the "real" world. The physical attributes of eternity really reminded me of the movie "Brazil". A baroque concoction of pipes and wires and weird equipment. I loved the bit about getting a "lift" back, and the one policeman's view that it was very convenient since his beard didn't grow while he was there. Sherry

The Early Years of Brian O'Nolan, Flann O'Brien/Myles Na Gcopaleen
by Ciaran O Nuallain

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