Flann O'Brian is absolutely one of the greatest practitioners of language. This collection of his work, "The Best Of Myles", is some of the finest writing I have ever had the pleasure to read. Gaelic, English, French, German, and Latin, are 5 languages he writes fluently. He is the personification of all that is famous of Irish Wit. There appear to be few topics he did not comment upon or release a withering appraisal with pinpoint precision.
Mr. O'Brian wrote for a daily newspaper until his death in 1966. The volume and quality of the written material he produced is amazing. This 400-page book is one of five that are available and that I intend to read. There is virtually nothing about his personal history in this volume, so hopefully there is a biography in print documenting the time he spent learning and practicing his craft. The only downside to this book is that some is in Gaelic with no translation, and there are many articles that will seem to exist in isolation if the reader does not have some knowledge of Irish History. Even if these commentaries were removed, the balance of the work would still be a remarkable literary performance.
Some of the best pieces were his comments on the affectation in so many facets of daily life. And his specific attacks on, "bores", and all the pretensions of the world of modern art, and those who would pretend to possess knowledge of which they are bereft. He creates institutes and foundations and companies dedicated to servicing frauds and exposing the truth. Much is for pure fun, but like all humor contains truth. He offers the services of a company that will come to the home of any illiterate with a library, and his people will either rummage through your books for a pittance, or for a more substantial sum, will dog-ear pages, write brilliant marginalia, and leave tickets and programs to various cultural events as though they were misplaced bookmarks. And for those who have the funds, books will receive forged inscriptions from their authors, and letters of thanks to the book's owner for their help with a particularly difficult passage.
This book came at the end of 2001 for me. I hate lists of the best of the year; however nothing I have read this year surpasses this book, absolutely nothing!