Thursday, March 17, 2005

On Irish Letters

Happy St. Patrick's Day, friends! And over at Salon, Allen Barra offers excellent advice for celebrating - track down some Flann O'Brien, and wallow in his mastery! At Swim-Two-Birds in particular is a masterpiece - one of the great novels of the 20th century, a book as infinitely re-readable as they come. Cowboys, Irish mythical heroes, drunken college students, civil servants, devils and fairies, innkeepers and serving girls drink, play poker, bet on the horses, recite poetry, cadge cigarettes, stay in bed for days at a time, tell jokes, discuss politics and indulge in literature and literary theory. It is incomparable, though occasionally imitated - it is marvellous beyond words.

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