This is a collection of journalistic pieces from O' Brien's Cruiskeen Lawn column in the Irish Times, published under the name Myles na Gopaleen. They are mostly from 1947-1957, according to the preface, that is, after O'Brien's most fruitful period when he wrote his two most acclaimed novels At Swim-Two-Birds and The Third Policeman and the journalism collected in the Best of Myles, his best-known collection.
This collection is almost as good as The Best of Myles, sharp-witted, with an eager eye for the absurd and an unfailing ear for dialogue. This dialogue may seem strange to some but it is an accurate copy of Irish speech patterns. O'Brien's moods were more erratic in this period, however, and occasionally humour gives way to curmudgeonly rants on then-topical matters. Half-jokingly he rails against the philistinism and stupidity of his fellow Irishmen. His twin obsessions of James Joyce and bicycles are not neglected, however.
The best introduction to Flann O'Brien would be At Swim-Two-Birds, or maybe The Best of Myles. If you liked that you'll probably find this an enjoyable and witty collection; though the joie de vivre and youthful exuberance of Swim is gone yet behind the coruscating satire and flights of near-insane fantasy it is clear that a formidable intellect is at work, a lover of language and learning, a fierce enemy of hypocrisy and cant, and, for me, the funniest writer ever to pick up a pen.
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