Sunday, February 24, 2008

Flann O'Brien's Collected Novels: John Updike's review

Here's a review by John Updike on Flann O'Brien's collected novels. Who'd ever have thought they'd be in the same Everyman's series as, uh, another new arrival, Kahlil Gibran's "The Prophet." That vague vademecum's but 96 pages and as Elizabeth Colbert noted in her review also in The New Yorker of Robin Wainwright's biography, "with margins wide enough to drive a truck through." I only wish "At Swim-Two-Birds" or "The Third Policeman" had sold so much for Myles/Flann/Brian in his own rather sorry lifetime. The few and the proud are his readers who have the patience for scholastic satire or grim existentialism, as opposed to airy nostrums and New Age puffery? "An exegesis of squalor," a "hard life" indeed. (Feb. 11-18, 2007 anniversary issue.)

Image by Brian O'Toole of Flann O'Brien (William Tracy's cowboy characters surround "Swim" to collude! Mad Sweeney resembles a rather anorexic Unmoved Mover in either "Monty Python & the Holy Grail" or a Flemish altarpiece.):

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