two-words: perspicacious piss-take
Flann O’Brien is James Joyce meets Tex Avery, drenched in copious pints of plain.
As a lover of Ulysses, Looney Toons and the occasional drink, At Swim-Two-Birds, O’Brien’s irreverent satire of Irish Literature in general and Stephen Dedalus in particular, was destined to be a favourite and is the funniest book I’ve read in ages. It opens with the narrator positing the feasibility of a novel having three openings, successfully executes the gag making it a novel with four openings. It also has a triple-sweet ending with lashings of laughter in between, so there is plenty to love.
At Swim-Two-Birds is the story of a young nameless lazy drunken verminous student/author (O’Brien’s alter-ego) writing a story of another lazy author, Dermot Trellis (O’Brien’s alter-ego’s alter-ego, stay with me) whose characters come to life and revolt, with help of a pooka and a good fairy, against their poor workplace-conditions: Slug Willard, a trigger-happy cowpuncher, is sick of being recycled as a tram driver; Finn Mac Cool, a powerfully-built Fenian, protests getting his ass kicked by inferior specimen; Furriskey would rather not defile women; a talking cow would like to be milked more frequently etc. etc. Hi-jinx, twisted Celtic myth and running-kicks ensue, spliced with biting commentary on the writing process and gratuitous pandering to temperamental readers and critics alike,
It’s the sort of queer stuff they look for in a story these days. p.170.
It is full of hilariously strange meta-fictitious characters, is acutely perceptive and self-deprecating, and has wild improbable anachronistic action, videlicet, it is the perfect combination of ridiculous conviviality and on-tap porter, making for laugh-out-loud rollicking humour.
In fitting homage, an ambitious troupe of Irish actors, with In Bruges‘ Brendan Gleeson at its helm, is making an eponymous film set to be released in 2013. The budget now stands at $11M and I’m wondering just how much is dedicated to the portrayal of the layers in the action. Some scenes may be animated Tex Avery-style, or computer-generated, who knows, but this is the kind of book that can easily become your baby and you wouldn’t want to fuck up the adaptation. So the pressure is on, Gleeson!
If my brother gave At Swim-Two-Birds to me as a prank as Dylan Thomas suggests, I’d smother him in a thousand drunken grateful kisses. This novel is such a cracking funny piss-take, it goes straight to the pool room, snugly between James Joyce’s Ulysses and my 10 year old 21 year old bottle of Appleton.
my people-the presets
daddy cool-boney m
is my baby yours?-sarah blasko