Thursday, May 1, 2008

Things to know, sponsored by London Academy Laboratories

I just reread Flann O'Brien's The Hard Life, a short novel by an author who came from the same Dublin as James Joyce, and who had a somewhat troubled mutual admiration society with that author. I absorbed more from it this time, and it's becoming one of my favorite books. Feel the need to enumerate some facts about it in a list. Not just because I'm lazy, although that's part of it. It's also a matter of form following function. Without further ado:

1. This is the first item.
2. The next item will be a spoiler.
3. The last word in the English language edition is "vomit.'
4. O'Brien was actually a pseudomym of Brian Ó Nualláin, or more commonly, Brian O'Nolan.
5. O'Nolan/O'Brien dedicates this "misterpiece" to Graham Greene.
5a. O'Brien and Greene were co-religionists, namely adherents of the Roman Catholic Church.
5b. Nonetheless, few would mistake the writing of one for the writing of the other.
6. While a Catholic, O'Brien felt free to include in this novel a Dublin pensioner and a German priest having a row with His Holiness the Pope.
7. The German priest's name is Father Kurt Fahrt. Yes, in many ways it's that kind of book.
8. There is tightrope walking in this book. It's one of the first things that the narrator's brother convinces himself that he has learned, and is qualified to teach others.
9. Numerous Gaelic words and phrases appear in this novel. The non-speaker can fill just about all of them in through context.
10. Gravid water. You just have to see for yourself.


susan said...

Now I've been bullet point educated about another of the greats, I'm intellectually satisfied and can return to my romance novel. thank you :-)

Ben said...

I like to help:)