"A feast of a book."—The Independent
The Nation“Myles was a modern Swift come to judge and scourge the Yahoos in prose as plain as that of the Dean himself.”
James Joyce“A real writer, with the true comic spirit.”
S. J. Perelman“The best comic writer I can think of.”
Nicholson Baker“Intoxicatingly funny. . . . A priceless estate-sale of alien and gorgeous vocabulary. Timeless.”
Publishers WeeklyCivil servant and satirist Brian O'Nolan (1911-1966), aka Flann O'Brien (for his comic novels) or Myles na gCopaleen (for his humorous, highly opinionated newspaper column), is resurrected in this collection of his "Cruiskeen Lawn" columns for the Irish Times. Culled from na gCopaleen's WWII period work and never before published in book form, the columns veer from virulent invective to "a good laugh." Jackson notes that "the original reader opening his morning paper had no idea whether Myles was going to amuse, anger, surprise, disgust or bore him," and his selection preserves the chronological order of the original publication in an effort to "restore something of Myles' unpredictability." However, the erratic groupings, tacked together by the editor's enigmatic chapter titles and notes, appear inchoate and limp, compared to other collections of na gCopaleen's columns (The Best of Myles and Further Cuttings from Cruiskeen Lawn). Still, na gCopaleen's penchant for offbeat subjects (such as Ibsen's dandruff), his caustic wit ("I am, as you know, an Irish person and I yield to gnomon in my admiration and respect for the old land.") and playful puns ("As for drink, they tell me it gives you a red nose, a complaint that can be passed on to your children. Damn nosa how red it is!") offer a hilarious glimpse of both the meaningful and mundane in WWII Ireland. When the layers are peeled away, they reveal an imaginative comic genius with a genuine gift for language. Hector McDonnell's cartoons add to the hilarity. (Jan. 15) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library JournalIssued in Great Britain in 1999, this is a collection of the wartime "Cruiskeen Lawn" columns written by O'Brien's (At Swim-Two-Birds; The Dalkey Archive) and published in the Irish Times from 1940 to 1945 under the pseudonym Myles na Gopaleen. Although the chapters bear titles (e.g., "The Shy Child," "Education," "In Extremis"), they are hardly thematic. Other, more thematically organized "Lawn" collections are available (The Best of Myles, which also covers 1940-45, and Further Cuttings, which covers 1947-57, both part of Dalkey's "John F. Byrne Irish Literature" series), but Jackson (Myles Before Myles) has collected articles that have not appeared in previous anthologies. At War preserves the chronology of these 1940-45 columns, thrusting the reader back into the time and context in which they were written. Readers new to his newspaper work will find O'Brien's columns every bit as enjoyable as his novels. O'Brien ridicules, harangues, and "instructs" his audience (even derailing his rant briefly to berate the people of Ireland for biting their nails while he is talking). This hilarious collection is ultimately very telling of both the author and World War II Ireland. Recommended for academic or public libraries with collections of Irish literature.-Felicity D. Walsh, Brenau Univ., Gainesville, GA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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