At Swim-Two-Birds

At Swim-Two-Birds

Book - 2000
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Penguin Putnam
Flann O'Brien's innovative metafictional work, whose unruly characters strike out their own paths in life to the frustration of their author, At Swim-Two-Birds is a brilliant impressionistic jumble of ideas, mythology and nonsense published in Penguin Modern Classics. Flann O'Brien's first novel tells the story of a young, indolent undergraduate, who lives with his curmudgeonly uncle in Dubin and spends far too much time drinking with his friends. When not drunk or in bed he likes to invent wild stories peoples with hilarious and unlikely characters - but somehow his creations won't do what he wants them to. A dazzling work of farce, satire, folklore and absurdity that gives full rein to its author's dancing intellect and Celtic wit, At Swim-Two-Birds is both a brilliant comic send-up of Irish literature and culture, and a portrayal of Dublin to compare with Joyce's Ulysses. Brian Ó Nualláin, (1911-1966), better known by his pseudonym Flann O'Brien, was born in Strabane, County Tyrone, and studied at University College Dublin before joining the Irish Civil Service. Ifyou enjoyed At Swim-Two-Birds, you might like Vladimir Nabokov's Pale Fire, also available in Penguin Modern Classics. 'This is just the book to give your sister if she's a loud, dirty, boozy girl' Dylan Thomas 'That's a real writer, with the true comic spirit' James Joyce, author of Ulysses 'A brilliant, beer-soaked miniature masterpiece' Time

Publisher: London ; New York : Penguin Books, 2000
ISBN: 9780141182681
Characteristics: 217 p. ; 20 cm


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kurthallsman Dec 01, 2014

Usually, when you reach the half way point in a novel, things really start happening in a story. When I reached the meridian in "AT SWIM...", I couldn't think of any reason to continue. I can't rate this book for not finishing it. All I can say is, it's definitely not for everyone, and I am one of them. I found the "Third Policeman" more intriguing, but I couldn't finish that one either.

WVMLStaffPicks Aug 28, 2014

Claimed by its author to have been so detested by Hitler that he started World War II just to sabotage its sales, this 1939 novel is about a guy writing a novel about a guy writing a novel. Unexpectedly, the characters from the innermost story, yearning for freedom, rebel against their author by trapping him in a novel of their own. This is not always an easy read, but there is no matching Flann O'Brien's witty and subversive imagination.

theorbys Dec 10, 2012

Five stars, not entirely for reading pleasure, but also for originality and influence on metafictional writings. O'Brien seems to me to be more of a cult phenomena now, almost eclipsed by Joyce and Beckett, but he should be read more widely.

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