Friday, January 1, 2016

Fiction Friday (38)

First off, I can't believe it's been so long since my last Fiction Friday. It's inexcusable! But let me provide one for you anyway. It's not that I haven't been reading, because I have. However, since my last book review, there was a book that I started to read and decided not to finish. That is something I'd only done twice before in my life. But given my limited time due to the delight that is my baby daughter, I've decided that time is too valuable to keep on with a book that once given ample pages still fails to interest me. I also had to spend a lot of time this past Fall reading my own manuscript, which I read twice. But a few weeks ago, I finally picked up a new book, one that had been in my pile for years. Like many readers of this book in the last decade, my interest was brought to it by Lost and its connection with that television show. Just another wonderful thing that show did, bringing attention to a fabulous novel that was in danger of disappearing from print.

The Third Policeman by Flann O'Brien

At a certain point in one's reading life, there comes a time when there are few novels that are utterly surprising. It's not the fault of the books, but of the wealth of accumulated stories and writing styles that the reader has gathered in his or her brain. So when I do discover such a novel, it excites me. This is one such novel that confounded, confused, and then ultimately won me over.

The book opens with perfectly established intrigue, and throughout the book, there is a remarkable ability to present events, sometimes extremely complicated ones, with carefully crafted simplicity. Admittedly, it takes a good chunk of the book before it veers off into the weird and wonderful aspects that finally won me over. Much of that is due to the need of establishing the BIG twist that only becomes known at the end.

While the BIG plot twist was one of those that completed the book, it wasn't the most fascinating part for me, mainly because it was a twist I've encountered in other novels (Beautiful Losers by Leonard Cohen is another novel that uses it well). It was the smaller elements, these bits that stretched the imagination to great lengths that were mind blowing, those are the moments that will stay in my thoughts for years and years.

The book combined the profound with the humorous in the way that reminded me of Tito Purdue. There was the wildly absurd de Selby annotations that ran throughout, that were so nuanced and detailed, making the comedy so subtle and all that much more hilarious. Then there were the policemen and their theories on the relationship between bicycles and humans that were absolutely delightful. The arguments between the main character and his suddenly appearing conscious named "Joe" is full of a brand of humor that I associate with Raymond Queneau and made me chuckle through out. And then there was the torture of a paradise that was both attainable and forbidden at the same time, which establishes the core theme of the novel, so expertly done that it is only after the last page is closed that it makes one contemplate the scope of its message.

Eye-opening and Entertaining.

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