01 December, 2011
At Swim-Two-Birds by Flann O’Brien (1939)
This book is about a man writing a book. And that book is also about a man writing a book. Confused yet? It gets worse, because the characters in the various manuscripts interact with one another and rebel against their respective authors’ plots. Drawing deeply from Irish mythology, At Swim-Two-Birds could be seen as a sort of zenith in high modernism. It’s not an easy read, indeed the language is often ridiculously elaborate, but it is laced with the most wonderful Irish humour. Some of the dialogue is particularly funny. Yes, the rewards for persistence are bountiful here.