tENTATIVELY, cONVENIENCE's Reviews > At Swim-Two-Birds

At Swim-Two-Birds by Flann O'Brien
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it was amazing
bookshelves: literature
Recommended for: every critter, living or dead

Whew! Double-Whew! Zillion-Whew! I had the vague notion that I'd read everything by Flann O'Brien & then I realized that I hadn't read this one. &, OH SHIT!, it's the most amazing one yet. Rilly. Definitely in my top of my top 10 all-time favorite novels. Utterly hilarious, utterly brilliant, utterly inspired, utterly tangential in the sneakiest most mischievous way. Even the introduction by William H. Gass is fantastic.

The tale? An author (unnamed) who spends much of his time laying in bed writes a story about an author (Trellis) who spends most of his time laying around in bed. Trellis is writing a sordid morality tale in wch it's his intention to make his characters all depraved & their lives miserable. His characters come to life, Trellis controls them while he's awake but can't while he's asleep. The characters revolt against the natures they've been given by him & drug Trellis to keep him asleep. Trellis creates a woman character who he rapes, she has a child half in Trellis's 'real' world & half in Trellis's 'fictional' world. The child, Orlick, becomes a writer too & takes revenge on Trellis by writing a tale in wch Trellis suffers enormously.

If the above were all there were to it, "At Swim-Two-Birds" wd be extravagantly beauteous as is - but that's only the outline of its bare, bare bones. O'Brien's brain was on full-force flow when he wrote this. It continually transforms in the most outlandish tall-tale way I've ever come across. Superlatives fail me. Hyperbole poops out.

I love the writing of Philip K. Dick b/c most of his SF has at least 2 major plot ideas where other SF writers wd only have one. O'Brien has 20 or so. He goes off every-wch-way, all fascinating, & manages to tie it together w/o tying it down. One surprise after another, one reference after another tweaked. This is much more conventionally readable than Joyce's "Finnegans Wake" (wch I respect perhaps above all other novels as a work of mammoth intricacy) & came out in the same yr (1939) & DAMNDED IF IT AIN'T ALMOST AS GREAT!!
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Reading Progress

March 10, 2008 – Shelved
Started Reading
April 1, 2008 – Shelved as: literature
April 1, 2008 – Finished Reading

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