Archive for August, 2010

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Mushrooms

August 29, 2010

Ok, after reading chapter 2 of this book, I’ve come to the conclusion that you and I, Twin brother, on completely different pages when it comes to this book. (Both literally, I am guessing I am still lagging a bit behind you on page count, and metaphorically.)

It seems that what I love about the book, you hate. What I find hilarious, you find frustrating. You are the Felix to my Oscar, the Lucy to your Ethel in the reading of this book. You a buttoned-up prudish frump of a reader who wants narrative sense and factual footnotes, me a zany slobbish, carefree reader who is taking the book for what it is.

Case in point: The Footnotes.

You wrote quite  a stirring love poem to the art of the footnote in your previous post, and while I usually find footnotes annoying and disruptive to narrative flow I come across footnotes such as this gem on the scientific basis of nighttime:

It is not clear whether de Selby had heard this but he suggests (Garcia p. 12) that night, far from being caused by the commonly accepted theory of planetary movements, was due to accumulations of ‘black air’ produced by certain volcanic activities of which he does not treat in detail.

How, how I say, can you hate a footnote like that. That, my friend, is what is commonly referred to as a “hoot.”

You and I tend to see eye to eye on these sorts of things (and when not eye to eye at least eye to forehead.) When last were our views last so diametrically opposed? Was it our differing levels of excitement about the cinematic potential Eat, Pray, Love. No, that doesn’t quite cut it, and then it dawned on me:

Mushrooms

Whereas, I love this fungal delicacy on everything from omelets. Alone or in a casserole. I love them. You on the other hand have had, shall I say, irrational dislike of this food since we were wee.

In this book, as with mushrooms, I am right and you are wrong.

Both are a delight.

Have I mentioned that I love that the narrator has named his soul Joe.

See? A hoot.

Justin

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Footnotes: A Romance

August 24, 2010

I need to get something of my chest.  No more living a lie.  I’m throwing open the proverbial closet doors, strutting out and announcing at the top of my lungs:

“I love footnotes”

Little surprise fact nuggets.  You’re enjoying the main thesis of a work of nonfiction when the glimmer of that superscript Arabian numeral catches your attention and as your eye scans down to the bottom of the page you’re taken on a fantastic and mysterious voyage to a tangential topic that you didn’t even realize was missing from your life until the absence is made apparent from the cozy way the new information fits into your brain like that puzzle piece that had fallen under the couch.  I’m like Princess Jasmine on that carpet ride, spooning with a citation.

I love them, I love them, I love them.

Even in fiction (and I know that this is sometimes a stickler for even the biggest fiction and/or footnote fan).  Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke– oh how they made me laugh! (At least the half of the book that I read…I really should go back and finish it).  Oblivion by David Foster Wallace–oh how they made me think!  And Ibid by Mark Dunn — my head almost exploded with happiness.

It was indeed a love that nothing could sunder!  Romeo and who?  What’s his face and Thisbe.  No the true romance of the ages was Jon and footnotes.  I thought we’d our love would live forever.

And then came The Third Policeman.

Now the romance has gone sour.  These footnotes don’t delight.  They don’t enlighten.  These footnotes obfuscate and bore.  Here’s an example:

A Memoir of Garcia, p. 27

A reference to a book that doesn’t exist!  That’s not funny…that’s maddening!

So footnotes and I are officially taking a break…I’ll keep you posted how things turn out.

Luckily, I have not been completely distracted by O’Brien’s lackluster footnoting and have made more progress in the book (how about you twin?  any progress?  Or are you still treading some self-satisfied water back in chapter one?).

In chapter three (three!) our self-forgetting wanderer meets another one-legged murdering thief on the road to find the policemen and the black box. (If you’re not currently reading this book, this must sound like nonsense.  If you are…still pretty much nonsense).  This seems too convenient to me by half.  I’m thinking some kind of metaphysical doubling is going on here…he’s actually meeting another version of himself on the road.  Maybe everyone in this book is some sliver of himself!  Or maybe my utter confusion at the purpose of this book is making me come up with preposterously difficult hypotheses and I should, instead, just enjoy the book instead of trying to “figure it out”.

Nope.  That’s not going to happen.  I’m going to crack this nut.

Off for some nut cracking,

Jon

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Another Fine Mess You’ve Gotten Us Into

August 16, 2010

“The wit of Robert Benchley and the looks of Ivor Novello”? It’s a good thing that the average readers of this blog or well into the 110s or no one would be able to appreciate your hilarious cultural references. Why I’d say you have the wit of Federic March and the looks of a young Harold Llyod. (Zing!!!)

Now, admittedly, I’ve only read Chapter 1, but I think the book to this point is actually kind of hilarious. The whole situation with our nameless narrator and John Divney is pretty hilarious.

In fact, about 5 pages in I was thinking it odd that you had mentioned the bi-curious vibe that was being sent by the two being inseparable and how everybody in town thinks they’re as close as Bert and Ernie.

And then we find out that it’s all due to a lack of trust between these two partners in crime.

It’s like The Treasure of the Sierra Madre meets Laurel and Hardy. And, at least in my book, that is pretty frickin’ hilarious.

But, maybe the wheels come off in the second chapter. I guess only time will tell.

Well, that’s all I got, so I will leave you to witticisms and bon mots.

Justin

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Law and Order

August 14, 2010

Have you not started to stop the neglecting of beginning this book yet?

Does the awkward syntax of that previous sentence twist your mind?!?  It’s a joke for those of the in know of Chapter 2 (and it’s hilarious)…once you get as far as me you will look back on this post and chortle with abandon.  “Oh that Jon!” you’ll say “He wasn’t being intentionally obfuscatory–no!–he was being his usually witty self.  I am so lucky to have a twin with the wit of Robert Benchley and the good looks of Ivor Novello!”

I just finished Chapter 2 and things are starting to get weird.  The narrator goes to Mather’s house and all hopes of realist crime fiction go flying out the window.  Where I was expecting, perhaps, a little Law and Order in the Irish countryside or CSI: County Cork, I instead find myself twisting on a surreal whirligig.   Instead of the reassuring, eagle-like presence of an Irish Sam Waterson I find myself with a talking corpse, a soul named Joe (a real soul–not like a person-soul–NOT like “There isn’t a soul around” when they really mean there are no people around.  Here there are people and souls and they’re separate…but combined–my head hurts), and the promise of some policemen who can tell me what my “color” is.

Crap.

This book is going to be really flipping strange.  And it’s still not funny.

I did do some research on De Selby…and in case you’re interested, he’s not real.  (Spoiler!) Here’s his Wikipedia entry.

At this point of the book I’m a little nervous…I think the narrative could go down one of two paths…either its going to the Tristram Shandy path (long and curvy) and soon it will get uproariously entertaining, or it with go the Dead Souls route (long and sucky) and soon it will just continue to bore me for the next 160 pages.

I’ll keep you posted.

Jon

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Smother Brothers

August 11, 2010

Dear Justin…I shall look forward to the future cop quips. I’m glad our police-themed entertainments will continue on into our 30s…from our youth as two young boys pretending to be Cagney and Lacey in our basement to our long fireside debates about who is a better sheriff Amos Tupper or Mort Metzger (I’ll be a Tupper man until the day I die!) to now reading this book together about a policeman while you make famous police-show themed puns.

I, too, was waylaid from posting by a trip to Canada…but I was further east than you over in Toronto. A highlight of my trip (and, I believe, yours–if I’m to believe your Facebook posts) was getting to taste the Canadian delicacy, poutine.

A lunch of poutine

As I ate this delicious treat I was thinking that a future twin-themed venture for you and I would be to create an American venue for this concoction of french fried potatoes, cheese curds and beef gravy. I’ve decided our restaurant-to-be should be named “The Smother Brothers” and there we can sell poutine and nachos and other foodstuffs smothered in other foodstuffs. I think our slogan should be “The Smother Brothers smother their smothers with love…it’s the secret ingredient!” For our promotional materials you should dress up like an old-time barber with your hair parted down the middle, a handlebar mustache and a red and white striped shirt. And you should wear a straw boater. I will be dressed as a butler…oh the merchandising possibilities!

But before I left for our neighbor to the north I *did* start reading The Third Policeman. So far no policeman, but the book does open with a grisly murder (not the most pleasant surprise as I had decided to start reading this book as I ate dinner). My guess is that the policemen will follow shortly.

Have I told you why I chose this book? Interesting story…or not interesting. Whatever.

The reason I tell people I picked this book: The New Yorker published a fascinating critical evaluation of O’Brien’s work by John Updike.

The real reason I picked this book: I’m curious to see what light it can shed on the mythology of the TV show, Lost.

I thought the first chapter was pretty good…I didn’t find it particularly funny (see above about the grisly murder), and I thought this book was supposed to be funny (see above about how I referenced that New Yorker article). But it was interesting enough that I’m excited to see what happens in Chapter 2.

I read Chapter 1 a week and a half ago, right before I left for vacation…but then ran out of time to post. So I’m a little foggy on the particulars…but I think you’ll like what you find.

Jon

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Just The Facts

August 9, 2010

It just dawned on me that I have yet to thank you for picking The Third Policeman as our next book to read. The way I see it, I now have carte blanche to use all of my favorite police cliches which include but are not limited to:

“Book ’em Dano”
“Just the facts, ma’am.”
“The story you are about here is true. The names have been changed to protect the innocent.”
“Car 54, Where are you?”

Now, knowing what little I know of Flann O’Brien and his work, it could very well be that there will actually be little to no real policeman in the book, but I just want to put it out that that will not stop me from making witty use of the above.

(Okay, “witty” might be debatable, but overall use, will not.)

I have been avoiding the 800 pound gorilla in the room. (I’ve always found it wise to try and avoid 800 pound or larger primates.) But you may have noticed I have not posted in awhile the reasons for this are threefold:

Fold 1: Work: A work trip to Montreal kept me pretty well occupied over the last week.

Fold 2: Super Sad True Love Story: This book sort of took over my life for a few days. I highly recommend it.

Fold 3: I have just now (literally this very second) just got over the extreme boredom induced by the soporific 2000 movie version of House of Mirth. I mean, who would have guessed it: Gillian Anderson + Eric Stoltz + period costumes + soft focus shot after soft focus shot = really, really exciting.

Right?

Wrong.

Oh well, lesson learned. Onto a new book (book ’em, indeed).

Justin