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5.0 out of 5 stars
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 22 June 2013
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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on 4 September 2011
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.
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on 30 May 2011
wow this is an amazing book very dark and sad,it made me cry but had to finish it a real piece of littérateur but not an easy ride. Buy it and brace yourself
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on 3 May 2011
Brilliant, gritty, and not out of place even today. This novel shows life in the raw when you subscribe to a cause that can both consume and crush an individual, and tells it like it is, no parties, girls or glamour non-sense, just in-your-face what happens when personal angst and gain take over idealism.
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on 20 January 1999
this book is great, it deals with a friend who turns on another friend and realizes what he has done right before he dies. a great book for plot summary reports and just for all around reading.
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