MJ Nicholls's Reviews > The Best of Myles

The Best of Myles by Flann O'Brien
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really liked it
bookshelves: non-fiction, pogue-mahone, dalkey-by-proxy

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 ridiculous idea and stretching it to breaking point.

His grasp of language is also amazing. This book bedazzles with endless wordplay and puns. There are also frequent forays into Latin and French, as well as an entire section written in Gaelic. The section "Miscellenous" is less successful. There are one too many rambling and baffling columns here, and the book does seem to run on forever.

Still: a top read and the definitive collection of O'Brien's articles and genius during wartime Ireland. A pint of Flann is your only man.
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Reading Progress

September 29, 2010 –
page 1
October 3, 2010 –
page 306
October 4, 2010 – Shelved
Started Reading
October 5, 2010 – Finished Reading
October 30, 2010 – Shelved as: non-fiction
July 30, 2011 – Shelved as: pogue-mahone
July 16, 2012 – Shelved as: dalkey-by-proxy

Comments Showing 1-5 of 5 (5 new)

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message 1: by Richard (new) - added it

Richard I was gabberflasted to discover that there's a pint or two of Flann in our library. Hurrah!

message 2: by MJ (new) - rated it 4 stars

MJ Nicholls You will have a pungasm with this one, Richard. If you want to skip straight to the puns you should get The Various Lives of Keats and Chapman instead.

message 3: by Richard (new) - added it

Richard MJ wrote: "You will have a pungasm with this one, Richard. If you want to skip straight to the puns you should get The Various Lives of Keats and Chapman instead."

Our library offers slim pickings as far as Flann is concerned. But I'll add this to the pot as well.

message 4: by Jeffrey (new)

Jeffrey Keeten I've been eyeing The Complete Novels. What do you think MJ should I start with his novels or read some essays first?

message 5: by MJ (last edited Apr 25, 2012 07:28AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

MJ Nicholls I would say go for The Third Policeman but it's been so long since I read it, I can't back it up. It's his most critically lauded one, anyway. The Poor Mouth is a personal fave of mine, it's a flawless parody of Oirish novels about "excellent suffering." Go for that one.

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