Ian's Reviews > The Third Policeman

The Third Policeman by Flann O'Brien
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May 08, 13

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The initially peculiar writing style, which put me in mind of Magnus Mills, grew on me to become a flashback of listening in as a child to Irish adult conversations not quite understanding but feeling strangely comforted in alienation. By the time a character used the word gawm to describe himself O'Brien had already drawn me deep into the colloquialism. This is an exaggerated world of a band of wooden legged men and half man half bicycle policemen, and yet there is a straightforward robbery and murder plot underpinning the strangeness. The story has moments of horror, comedy, and tenderness, and segments which exercise the mind with intriguing possibilities of what lies beyond our wordly perceptions of normality. The plot leaves plenty of scope to wander and wonder ahead the various twists and turns. The dreamlike quality of the narrative reflects a stream of unconciousness which becomes clear in a beautifully crafted finale. The book contains numerous footnotes which are undoubtedly clever in their seemingly important referencing of the works and experiences of a fictitious physician and intellectual, though at times these become a tediously distracting sideshow whilst allowing the author to run a parallel story written with a completely different style of prose.
The Third Policeman is throughly entertaining work best read in your favoured rural Irish dialect.
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