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If Hemingway came from Inishmore,
This review is from: The Informer (Paperback)
Some people might object to that title and of course it is an over-simplification. My point is that O'Flaherty's powerful rhythmic prose is reminiscent of that of his much more famous American peer and I cannot help but believe that had O'Flaherty been born somewhere else he would be widely celebrated and read today. Instead he is tragically neglected. Significantly The Informer was written in 1925, a year before Hemingway's first novel The Torrents of Spring. I am not suggesting that Hemingway was influenced by O'Flaherty, that would be silly, but I would love to know if he knew of his work. If you enjoy Hemingway's sort of strident, muscular story-telling you should read O'Flaherty. The entire narrative of The Informer is in real time, it follows its protagonist Gypo Nolan through a day and a night and into the following day as he alternately batters and stumbles his way through a dark and frightening Dublin underworld populated by thugs, prostitutes and desperate revolutionaries. As well as Hemingway the book is strangely redolent of another American classic, Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye both in terms of its real-time structure and the impetuous, id-driven behaviour of its central character. Like Caulfield, Nolan's actions are determined almost exclusively by selfishness. Arguably the novel's best section comes when he is drunk. His already muddled brain is further afflicted by the vast amount of alcohol he consumes and his whole world, and consequently the world of the novel becomes akin to a fevered, confused and quite terrifying dream.
As he pushes Gypo irrevocably toward his destiny O'Flaherty explores some of the political and social thinking of the time. Gypo is part of a thinly veiled IRA whose leaders, despite socialist rhetoric, are as self-absorbed as Gypo. I have mentioned two American writers but another literary giant who springs to mind is O'Flaherty's kinsman Samuel Beckett. The characters in Waiting for Godot: A Tragicomedy in Two Acts maybe more obviously lost in an existential void than Gypo but he is equally unable to find any genuine connection with the world or his fellow man as he staggers angrily through the grim and unforgiving Dublin night.