This riotous collection at last gathers together an expansive selection of Flann O’Brien’s shorter fiction in a single volume, as well as O’Brien’s last and unfinished novel, Slattery’s Sago Saga. Also included are new translations of several stories originally published in Irish, and other rare pieces. With some of these stories appearing here in book form for the very first time, and others previously unavailable for decades, Short Fiction is a welcome gift ...
This riotous collection at last gathers together an expansive selection of Flann O’Brien’s shorter fiction in a single volume, as well as O’Brien’s last and unfinished novel, Slattery’s Sago Saga. Also included are new translations of several stories originally published in Irish, and other rare pieces. With some of these stories appearing here in book form for the very first time, and others previously unavailable for decades, Short Fiction
is a welcome gift for every Flann O’Brien fan worldwide.
In so lovingly collecting and editing Flann O'Brien's widely scattered and almost forgotten short fiction, Neil Murphy and Keith Hopper have done the study of Irish literature a great service…This book [has] the great virtue of hauling O'Brien out from under the shadow of Joyce and Beckett. We see here a complicated modern writer; disheveled, hung over, restless, frustrated and, occasionally, very funny indeed.
Irish late modernist writer O'Brien (The Third Policeman, At Swim Two Birds, The Poor Mouth) wrote in Gaelic under the name Brian Ó Nualláin, and in English as Brother Barnabus, Myles na gCopaleen, Lir O'Connor, and Brian Nolan, among others. This present collection contains work from many of these known pseudonymns, with Gaelic stories in translation, as well as the unfinished novel, Slattery's Sago Saga. The variety taken together displays a playful, sardonic voice that is charmingly self-conscious in its invention. In "Scenes in a Novel," for instance, O'Brien's narrator is an author who must reckon with the rebellious characters of a novel he is writing, particularly his anti-hero Carruthers McDaid, "a man…created one night when had swallowed nine stouts and vaguely blasphemous." The story "Two in One" is narrated by Murphy, a taxidermist's assistant who attempts to hide the murder of his boss by wearing the deceased's skin, eventually fusing with it, only to be imprisoned for the crime of killing himself. Mirroring his own ambiguous approach to identity, a myriad cast of characters and voices seem to all jostle for attention, delightful in their assurance that "ot everything in story is as unbelievable as it may seem." (Aug.)
Flann O'Brien, whose real name was Brian O'Nolan, also wrote under the pen name of Myles na Gopaleen. He was born in 1911 in County Tyrone. A resident of Dublin, he graduated from University College after a brilliant career as a student (editing a magazine called Blather) and joined the Civil Service, in which he eventually attained a senior position. He wrote throughout his life, which ended in Dublin on April 1, 1966. His other novels include The Dalkey Archive, The Third Policeman, The Hard Life, and The Poor Mouth, all available from Dalkey Archive Press. Also available are three volumes of his newspaper columns: The Best of Myles, Further Cuttings from Cruiskeen Lawn, and At War.
Neil Murphy has previously taught at the University of Ulster and the American University of Beirut, and is currently Associate Professor of contemporary literature at NTU, Singapore. He is the author of several books on Irish fiction and contemporary literature and has published numerous articles and book chapters on contemporary Irish fiction, on postmodernism, and on Aidan Higgins.
Keith Hopper teaches Literature and Film Studies at Oxford University’s
Department for Continuing Education, and is a Research Fellow in Irish Studies at St Mary’s University College, Twickenham. He is the author of Flann
O’Brien: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Post-modernist, and general editor of the Ireland into Film series. He has written for the Irish Times and the New
Statesman, and is a regular contributor to the Times Literary Supplement.