Customer Review

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars stranger than you might think, 22 Jun. 2013
This review is from: The Informer (Paperback)
If you've seen John Ford's movie of this novel, it might lead you to expect a straightforward novel of betrayal and stupidity, but O'Flaherty's novel is stranger than that. The political situation out of which Gyppo Nolan's predicament springs is only sketched. O'Flaherty's interests are elsewhere. He portrays Gyppo as a character who seems all body, instinct, and appetite, and he sets him up in contrast to Dan Gallagher, the rebel commander, who is all mind and intellect. Both are concerned with power, but Gyppo's is brute strength, and Dan's has to do with keeping his comrades in line by virtue of his capacity for cold-blooded scheming. (This interest in Dan's character, by the way, is totally absent from the movie, in which the world is seen pretty much as only Gyppo sees it.) Both Dan and Gyppo inspire fear in others, but for different reasons. Gyppo's betrayal of McPhillip is caused by his hunger -- he's broke and starving; there's no political motive in him. As a result, Gallagher's way of thinking about revenge seems curiously beside the point, more a matter of Dan feeling the need to exert his authority to impress his underlings. And when Gyppo gets the reward, he eats and drinks, to be sure -- but he's also amazingly generous with the money. Meanwhile Dan is trying to exert his will over McPhillip's sister, who finds him attractive and yet in a way repellent. The way that O'Flaherty manipulates our sympathies as the novel progresses is worth noting, and his stylistic resourcefulness in getting inside Gyppo's and Dan's heads is unusual and interesting, though some readers might find it off-putting -- the writing can seem quite odd in places! I think that this is an intriguing novel, and its interest is both formal (i. e. aesthetic) and psychological rather than political.
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