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The Best of Myles

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  639 ratings  ·  50 reviews
The Best of Myles brings together the "best" of Flann O'Brien's newspaper column "Cruiskeen Lawn," written over a nearly thirty-year period, Covering such subjects as plumbers, the justice system, and improbable inventions, O'Brien (whose real name was Brian O'Nolan, though his newspaper pseudonym was Myles na Gopaleen) is replete with zany humor and biting satire directed ...more
Paperback, 400 pages
Published November 6th 1990 by Paladin (first published 1968)
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The Best of Myles is a selection from the newspaper articles of Flann O’Brien, author of At Swim-Two-Birds and The Third Policeman. The pieces, all for The Irish Times, were written initially under the pseudonym An Broc which means the badger. The name was then changed to An Cruiskeen Lawn, which means the full little jug, but was soon switched to Myles na gCopaleen and then to the definitive version, Myles na Gopaleen.
(It seems the reviewer has been reading Wikipedia -FO'B)

Erm...the name Myles
MJ Nicholls
Oct 04, 2010 rated it really liked it
This bumper-sized collection of Cruiskeen Lawn columns runs to 400 pages in a small 10pt font. You would be mistaken for thinking this covers his entire career at the Irish Times. In fact, it only covers from 1940-1945. Begad!

Bearing this in mind, his output was extraordinary. The range of wit, erudition, linguistic skill and creativity is outrageous. Among the funniest columns are the "Research Bereau," "The Brother" and the "Catechism of Cliché." O'Brien is at his finest when taking a ridiculo
A good deal of this collection was beyond my comprehension -- being firmly rooted in a time and place that I have scant knowledge of. What can you expect of a book that consists of thirty years' work by a newspaper columnist (and novelist), however brilliant? However, even though the average reader isn't privileged to understand all the references Myles makes to local concerns, at times his columns hit a mark of comic brilliance that is unmatched.

Consider, for example, several columns devoted t
May 17, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: journalism
A collection of humorous columns written by Brian O’Nolan for the Irish Times , and which for legal reasons appeared in that newspaper under a pseudonym de plume (false name for a French goose quill). “Myles na cGopaleen,” the newspapers call him (pronounced Flann O’Brien, Gaelic orthography being what it is—and “Flann” means “Irish,” don’t you know).

The book is divided into chapters, with O’Brien’s columns grouped together by subject. The first chapter, describing the activities of the WAAMA (
John Ryan
Feb 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The best of Myles, the best of Flann. Some absolute gold in this. I'd suggest this format suited him nearly better than the novel did (sacrilegious, I know) but there is a density of both form and humour here that is intimidating and enticing. I'm tempted to start his other collections immediately, or possibly never read anything else ever again.

Up there with Cre Na Cille for essential texts for understanding modern Ireland.
Dec 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Hilarious! That's not hyperbole, this book is literally hilarious; it makes me laugh out loud every time I pick it up. It's huge, packed full of the best parts of the satirical column that Myles na gCopaleen (aka Flann O'Brien, aka Brian O'Nolan) wrote in The Irish Times until his death in 1966, so it's not a book that you're going to read straight through, but just knowing that this volume is on my shelf, ready for me to pick up whenever I need a laugh, is very comforting. I don't know why he i ...more
Jan 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Besides writing novels under the pseudonym Flann O'Brien, Brian O'Nolan also wrote a regular column for the Irish Times under the name Myles na gCopaleen ("Myles of the Little Horses"). This book collects some of the best ones. They tend to be sarcastic observations on Dublin life in the 1940s-50s, which might seem pretty arcane, but just as you don't have to live in Chicago to appreciate Dave Barry, you don't have to be a Dubliner to enjoy Myles. The persona he creates for himself would rank as ...more
Apr 14, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm on my second copy of this book - I read and re-read the first copy until it fell apart. O'Brien's daily newspaper column in the Irish Times was an outlet for an under-appreciated intellectual talent. There's everything here from anarchic humour to social satire and dry wit, always flavoured with a hearty contempt for pretension in all its forms.
Humorous prose at its finest.
David Mccarthy
May 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brian O'Nolan wrote under the nom de plume Myles na gCopaleen (his other pen name was Flann O'Brien) for the Irish Times, and other news publications, in the mid Twentieth century. His columns consisted largely of comedic pieces and satirical jabs at various sections of Irish society, from wealthy Dublin cultural dilettantes to "the plain people of Ireland", essentially he got paid, to use the vernacular of the isles, to take the piss out of people. In style and substance his work for the Irish ...more
John Scaife
Oct 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A book to which I return time and again when I need cheering up. Funny, surreal and subversive. The plain people of Ireland. Genius.
Matthew Conroy
Some clever bits, buried in 400 pages of a certain narrow tone-of-voice.
Tom Meade
Unfortunately I doubt many alive today have a sufficiently detailed knowledge of all the subjects addressed to be be capable of getting all the jokes. Otherwise excellent. Especially when he came back to life to contest his insufficiently vexatious will.
Marco Ocram
Apr 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mind-blowing. It consists of a few hundred extracts from a daily column in the Irish Times, mainly from the 1940's I would guess, supposedly written by a fictitious character (Myles na gCopaleen)who is an omniscient polymath with authoritative views on every possible subject (it was actually written by Brian O'Nolan, who was better known as his pseudonym Flan O'Brien). The language is dazzling, as are the amazingly inventive subjects. Some of the contemporary references mean absolutely nothing t ...more
Apr 21, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So within my version of The Best of Myles , an aptly named Kevin O'Nolan was kind enough to write a pithy yet quite lovely preface.

As you gander through my abbreviated cull of his abridged introductory remarks, you should quickly notice that this aptly named Kevin easily understands, but does not thoroughly underestimate, one Brian O'Nolan née Flann O'Brien née Myles na Gopaleen.

See for yourself:

In the present selection articles are separated by asterisks. Where the topic was continued, the c
Feb 06, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essays, nonfiction
The first thing that comes to mind when reading something like this, or the collected Don Marquis, is that I wish there were columnists writing like this today. The closest we've come in my lifetime is probably Dave Barry, and that's not really a great comparison, as Barry's style of humor is very different.

This might have gotten five stars, but I don't like the way they compiled these columns, which they did by theme. Some of the themes feel more forced than others, and they still have 100 page
Aug 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I needed an antidote to 'Cousin Bette'. This seemed like a good 'bet'. Don't care for his column 'The Brother' or even 'The Plain People of Ireland,' but his columns 'The Research Bureau' with its many ingenious inventions, 'The Cathechism of Cliches', 'Keats and Chapman' are laugh-out-loud funny. His 'Binchy, Bergin, and Best' is included for Celticists like me who never knew the entire poem, or even who wrote it. O'Brian was also a well-informed locomotive enthusiast unless his hilarious colum ...more
May 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cult, laffs, irish
"Best of" is a bit of a misnomer, it is only the "Cruiskeen Lawn" columns from the first 5 years, through World War II. Some of this stuff is way too Irish, like, actually in Gaelic, or it seems like Gaelic and then when you try to pronounce it it turns out to be English. I got some real deep belly laughs out of this book though, funny stuff. I guess it is kind of important, because I have come across other Irish writings that casually mention "the Brother" or "the Plain People of Ireland" and I ...more
Sep 08, 2011 rated it liked it
This sort of book is difficult to rate. Taken individually, the pieces in the book are very funny, witty, intelligent and sometimes surreal. If I was reading Myles piece once a day in the Irish Times with the different formats spread around through the year, then I'd give the content 4 stars, but as a collection the pieces suffer in context. Two or three "Keats & Chapman" sketches or The Brother pieces are amusing, but after 45 pages of Keats and Chapman, it's hard to raise even a wry smile ...more
Marc McEntegart
Sep 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A charming collection of column entries from one of my favourite Irish writers. The whole collection has the English-through-the-lens-of-Irish feel that characterises O'Brien's writing, with the exception of those few columns written in various flavours of Irish, which were charming, to the extent that I could follow them.

At its maddest, it is stranger than The Third Policeman and At Swim Two Birds, and more light-hearted fun than An Béal Bocht.

It's truly fantastic and a personal favourite, be
Jul 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If this is the same edition as my Best of Myles, then this is endless, boundless, innovative genius. If it's not, then it will be something else, but potentially also seeded with ingenuity and lunacy beyond all decent repair. In a recent bout of anniversarial nostalgia, The Irish Times printed a selection of vintage Myles columns as tribute. They were still easily the most vibrant, fluent and relevant pieces in the newspaper, despite being sixty years old.
Apr 10, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: did-not-finish
Still picking through this. It's not bad, but like "Further Cuttings", it suffers from the fact the pieces are ordered by topic/ style instead of chronologically. This means that everyone of his "Keats" pieces, which are giant set ups for groaner puns it laid end-to-end so no matter how good the individual pieces are, you're sick of them long before you get to the end of the chapter.

Still a fine bathroom book.
Mar 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The unique humor of Flann O'Brian AKA Myles na Gopaleen is very comforting to the soft hearted and soft headed or those slightly tilted towards anarchy.
Excerpted from Myles na Gopaleen's column, published in Dublin's Irish Times for 29 years, it is such a strong collection of wit , philosophy, and charismatic construction of language that I want to read it out loud.
Very funny.
Paul Butler
Sep 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: irish, comic, genius
One of the funniest writers I have ever read. Like another reviewer here, I love to take down this book whenever I feel like laughing. And who wouldn't laugh at the exploits of "The Brother" or the preposterous WAMMA and their Book-handling services for rich idiots who couldn't be bothered to read the books they line their studies with. Excellent.
May 13, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Maureen by: Grania
Highlights from Cruiskeen Lawn, Brian O'Nolan / Flann O'Brien's column in the Irish Times that ran from 1940 to 1966. This is the most fun way to read O'Brien - you can dip in and out and most of it will be whip-smart and top-notch. And, it being a scattered collection of writing, you can skip over the bits which aren't.
Nov 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't often laugh out loud at what I read. Here's an exception. I didn't like 'At Swim-two-birds' at all, but in his guise as a newspaper columnist, the author must be one of the funniest ever. It's one of those books I will dip into again and again.
Bro_Pair أعرف
Brilliant. Just brilliant. I don't want to define brilliance beyond the confines of these covers. Na Gopaleen nee O'Brien nee O'Nolan is a prose stylist non pareil and a shameless humorist. Read him if you are a mendicant of the English language, or at least a heavy drinker.
Leonard Pierce
Jul 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humor
Simply the best collection available of one of the funniest writers in the English (and, for that matter, Irish) language. A number of the pieces in this are amongst the funniest, most skillful, and elegant humor pieces I've ever read, and there's some to-rate criticism in here, too.
Apr 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Awesome collection of newspaper columns from one of the funniest writers ever. A huge influence on me, though I wouldnt come close to his level in a million years. Read everything by Flann O Brien, but especially At Swim Two Birds!
Hilarious. Delicious wordplay. A worthwhile Flann browser full of tidbits. Keep it by your bed for quick tastes before sleep or a bracer in he morning.
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Pseudonym of Brian Ó Nualláin , also known as Brian O'Nolan.

His English novels appeared under the name of Flann O’Brien, while his great Irish novel and his newspaper column (which appeared from 1940 to 1966) were signed Myles na gCopaleen or Myles na Gopaleen – the second being a phonetic rendering of the first. One of twelve brothers and sisters, he was born in 1911 in Strabane, County Tyro
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“Why be a dumb dud? Do your friends shun you? Do people cross the street when they see you approaching? Do they run up the steps of strange houses, pretend they live there and force their way into the hall while you are passing by? If this is the sort of person you are, you must avail yourself today of this new service. Otherwise, you might as well be dead.” 9 likes
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