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Hieronymous Alloy
Jan 30, 2009


Why! Why!! Why must you refuse to accept that Dr. Hieronymous Alloy's Genetically Enhanced Cream Corn Is Superior to the Leading Brand on the Market!?!



Morbid Hound

Welcome goonlings to the Awful Book of the Month!
In this thread, we choose one work of literature absolute crap and read/discuss it over a month. If you have any suggestions of books, choose something that will be appreciated by many people, and has many avenues of discussion. We'd also appreciate if it were a work of literature complete drivel that is easily located from a local library or book shop, as opposed to ordering something second hand off the internet and missing out on a week's worth of reading. Better yet, books available on e-readers.

Resources:

Project Gutenberg - http://www.gutenberg.org

- A database of over 17000 books available online. If you can suggest books from here, that'd be the best.

SparkNotes - http://www.sparknotes.com/

- A very helpful Cliffnotes-esque site, but much better, in my opinion. If you happen to come in late and need to catch-up, you can get great character/chapter/plot summaries here.

For recommendations on future material, suggestions on how to improve the club, or just a general rant, feel free to PM the moderation team.

Past Books of the Month

[for BOTM before 2019, refer to archives]


2019:
January: Roadside Picnic by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky
February: BEAR by Marian Engel
March: V. by Thomas Pynchon
April: The Doorbell Rang by Rex Stout
May: Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
June: 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus by Charles C. Mann
July: The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach
August: Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds by Charles Mackay
September: Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay
October: Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado
November: The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett
December: Moby Dick by Herman Melville

2020:
January: The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
February: WE by Yevgeny Zamyatin
March: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini by Benvenuto Cellini
April: The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio
May: Black Lamb and Grey Falcon by Dame Rebecca West
June: The African Queen by C. S. Forester
July: The End of Policing by Alex S. Vitale
August: The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood, of Great Renown in Nottinghamshire, by Howard Pyle
September: Strange Hotel, by Eimear McBride
October:Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things (怪談)("Ghost Stories"), by Lafcadio Hearn
November: A Libertarian Walks Into a Bear: The Utopian Plot to Liberate an American Town (And Some Bears) , by Matthew Hongoltz Hetling
December: Ignition!: An Informal History of Liquid Rocket Propellants by John Drury Clark

2021:

January: The Mark of Zorro by Johnston McCulley
February: How to Read Donald Duck by Ariel Dorfman and Armand Mattelart
March: Carrier Wave by Robert Brockway

Current:

Book available here: https://www.amazon.com/Third-Policeman-Flann-OBrien/dp/156478214X

About the book

Simone Magus posted:

I'm Irish so I'm biased but just smh if you're not into The Third Policeman

Jrbg posted:

Embrace the literary horn. Also read The Third Policeman by Flann O'Brien, that's non-horny, funny and has the best mood in any book

fridge corn posted:

The Third Policeman would make a really good point and click adventure game imo

Gats Akimbo posted:

Yeah, they’d’ve called him a magic realist if he’d written decades later and not been Irish, but he’s much more morbid and funnier than that sounds. The Third Policeman is a good start; give it a try. If you like it you’ll probably like the rest too.

Jrbg posted:

Dear thread, The Third Policeman is very good, it's a different beast to At Swim-Two-Birds but it's cool. My favourite bit was the digression on how night-time is actually the result of tiny microscopic volcanoes and that we're asphyxiated into sleep. I also like the magnifying glass that magnifies so much things become invisible. The book reminds me a lot of David Lynch weirdly.


About the Author

quote:

Brian O'Nolan (Irish: Brian Ó Nualláin; 5 October 1911 – 1 April 1966), better known by his pen name Flann O'Brien, was an Irish novelist, playwright and satirist, considered a major figure in twentieth century Irish literature. Born in Strabane, County Tyrone, he is regarded as a key figure in modernist[1] and postmodern literature.[2] His English language novels, such as At Swim-Two-Birds and The Third Policeman, were written under the O’Brien pen name. His many satirical columns in The Irish Times and an Irish language novel An Béal Bocht were written under the name Myles na gCopaleen.

O'Brien's novels have attracted a wide following for their bizarre humour and modernist metafiction. As a novelist, O'Brien was influenced by James Joyce. He was nonetheless sceptical of the cult of Joyce, which overshadows much of Irish writing, saying "I declare to God if I hear that name Joyce one more time I will surely froth at the gob."[3]

Pacing



Read as thou wilt is the whole of the law.

Please post after you read!

Please bookmark the thread to encourage discussion.


References and Further Materials

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Third_Policeman

https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5684946


Suggestions for Future Months

These threads aren't just for discussing the current BOTM; If you have a suggestion for next month's book, please feel free to post it in the thread below also. Generally what we're looking for in a BotM are works that have

1) accessibility -- either easy to read or easy to download a free copy of, ideally both

2) novelty -- something a significant fraction of the forum hasn't already read

3) discussability -- intellectual merit, controversiality, insight -- a book people will be able to talk about.

Final Note:

Thanks, and we hope everyone enjoys the book!

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quantumfoam
Dec 25, 2003



The conversations with Joe are good, however the de Selby saga told exclusively via footnotes is better.

For an alternate slash earlier take on de Selby, O'Brien's The Dalkey Archive is worth checking out. I maintain that The Dalkey Archive is bleaker and more messed up than the Third Policeman.

artism
Nov 22, 2011



haven't read TTP yet but have read The Poor Mouth and am wrapping up a re-read of AS2B before starting this. O'Nolan reffered to AS2B as 'juvenile trash' towards the end of his life, but it endures as one of the funniest works of literary criticism ever written. hard to imagine a more insufferable pedant than the unnamed author.

fans of o'brien have probably already read Malone Dies by Beckett but I find it similar in both tone and content to At Swim, if only in the expression of serious contempt for the 'protagonist'. very funny stuff

artism fucked around with this message at 03:12 on Apr 6, 2021

Ben Nevis
Jan 20, 2011


I've had this one on my list for awhile, so I'm in as soon as my book gets here.

quantumfoam
Dec 25, 2003



Agree with the author that At Swim Two Birds is his worst work.
The Poor Mouth is amazing, and constantly trades places with Third Policeman/Dalkey Archives as my favorite Flann O'Brien novel.

Third Policeman theory of molecule transfer is legit.

For the May BotM, going to re-nominate the A Prince of Swindlers by Guy Boothby.

quantumfoam fucked around with this message at 03:00 on Apr 8, 2021

artism
Nov 22, 2011



in case anyone doesn’t have the introduction by Denis Donoghue:

there’s no link to be found.

in short, Donoghue, quoting other eminent, very important academics, situates the book in a long satirical tradition that rejects positivism and humanism (specifically, the reverence for humanity and personification of nature). theres also a brief bit evil and foolishness being intellectual rather than social diseases. there’s a lot more in the essay than this but I think it’s a decent context to begin assessing the book. or perhaps none is needed

the introduction calls to mind the opening sentence of Murphy, ‘the sun shone, having no alternative’, and Beckett’s general obsession with ignorance and obscurity

and though I’ve not read past the introduction and the first page, I am somewhat familiar with other books by Flann O’Brien, and think that this rejection of positivism, in terms of utility, is eloquently displayed by Orlick Trellis in the interlude directly before the final trial in At Swim, in which three provincials are imagined as enlightened gentlemen and spend five pages rattling off scientific facts to one other for no other purpose than to pass time, but really to display the author’s (O. Trellis) learning

artism fucked around with this message at 00:59 on Apr 10, 2021

quantumfoam
Dec 25, 2003



If you wanted to discuss At Swim Two Birds, you should have nominated it/voted for it back in March 2021.

artism
Nov 22, 2011



quite. quite

now twenty pages in, I am certain that while the final bit of my last comment might be redundant, the satirical vein of the books referenced is the same. which is why I made the observation above, anticipating to find similarities. especially when our narrator begins the book with the unscrupulous murder of a man in order to publish his opus about the obscure and out-of-print de Selby, and explicitly states that his work is more important than the maintenance of his person.

in a thread about the work of an author, I believe his other works, and also the works alluded to in the introduction to the novel, might bear a little discussion.

so gently caress your mother, in essence

artism fucked around with this message at 01:04 on Apr 10, 2021

poisonpill
Nov 8, 2009

The only way to get huge fast is to insult a passing witch and hope she curses you with Beast-strength.



They called the Third Policeman the Police Man One

This is weird and I’m guessing the guy is dead? This is some kind of Jacob’s Ladder / Owl Creek situation?

quantumfoam
Dec 25, 2003



Be prepared for plenty of bicycle metaphysics @poisonpill

poisonpill
Nov 8, 2009

The only way to get huge fast is to insult a passing witch and hope she curses you with Beast-strength.



Is this about a bicycle?

NmareBfly
Jul 16, 2004

I posted my food for USPOL Thanksgiving!




In a probably-smoky bar in New York in the 70's, a young college guy was reading a copy of The Third Policeman. He looked up when a pretty co-ed sat down beside him and asked "Hey, are you reading The Third Policeman? I love that book!" and they started an animated conversation about it (and probably bicycles.)

A little while in, a second guy overheard the convo and was surprised -- he was also big fan of the book, but it's pretty obscure! It was great conversational leverage to slide on in and continue the debate, and eventually the first guy had to get going... but the second one remained. He and the lady hit it off quite well! Well enough that they met up after her morning class the next day and went out to lunch.

And that's how my parents met, so this book kind of has a special place in my heart. I think it might be time for a re-read...

quantumfoam
Dec 25, 2003



Starting off with 3rd party Introduction chapters in fiction is cheat-mode. Dive into a fiction book blind, then once you're done, read the Introduction chapter to see what you caught on-your-own vs what the 3rd party Introduction chapter says to look for.

Back on BotM topic:
If the molecule transfer theory from Third Policeman is correct, we are all cyborgs in the Norbert Wiener usage of the terms cyborgs/cybernetics. Aka my hands are at least 36% iPhone and rising.

This is interesting because O'Brien's joke theory in a novel that failed to get originally published in 1940 predates a core piece of Norbert Wiener's Cybernetics: Or Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine, which was published @1948.

[irony]
Did Norbert Wiener rip off Brian O'Nolan aka Flann O'Brien?
[/irony]

poisonpill
Nov 8, 2009

The only way to get huge fast is to insult a passing witch and hope she curses you with Beast-strength.



Well, I finished it. Not sure what to say.

It WAS about a bicycle. It might have been better before postmodernist fiction had done this all to death, maybe?

artism
Nov 22, 2011



I also finished.

to me, Chapter 12 was the most coherent chapter in the book and where Donoghue's argument is most strongly evident. there's a really funny quote about the purported consolation of philosophy:

‘A young man in the town was seriously troubled by some question regarding a lady and feeling that this matter was weighing on his mind and threatening to interfere with his reason, he sought de Selby for advice. Instead of exorcising this solitary blot from the young man’s mind, as indeed could easily have been done, de Selby drew the young man’s attention to some fifty imponderable propositions each of which raised difficulties which spanned many eternities and dwarfed the conundrum of the young lady to nothingness. Thus the young man who had come fearing the possibility of a bad thing left the house completely convinced of the worst and cheerfully contemplating suicide. That he arrived home for his supper at the usual time was a happy intervention on the part of the moon for he had gone home by the harbour only to find that the tide was two miles out.’


also liked how de Selby's theories were represented in Hell. forward progress isnt possible, every moment a perpetual and cyclical eternity; atomic theory leading to bicycles capable of sexual assault.

the tone was very similar to AS2B. lots of flowery words and expressions punctuating the ends of sentences or to express the most mundane observations and a rejection of all pretense.

e: anyways very funny stuff overall. o'brien writes some of the funniest dialogue of anyone.

artism fucked around with this message at 13:17 on Apr 12, 2021

artism
Nov 22, 2011



here’s another funny bit of dialogue also from chapter 7:

‘Some people,’ he said, ‘call it energy but the right name is ominum because there is far more energy in the inside of it, whatever it is. Ominum is the essential inherent interior essence which is hidden inside the root or the kernel or everything and it is always the same.’
I nodded wisely.
... (skipping ahead)
‘... Some people call it God and there are other names for something that is identically resembling it and that thing is ominum also into the bargain.
‘Cheese?’
‘Yes. Ominum.’
‘Even braces?’
‘Even braces.’

Also, I looked up ominum and to be sure it is ‘a track cycling competition consisting of a number of contests of different types, both races and time trials.’


also, this quote and the one above is from chapter 7. brain not good - confused a V for an X

artism fucked around with this message at 02:33 on Apr 15, 2021

Ben Nevis
Jan 20, 2011


Neat to know that's a bike race too. I'd just gone from the latin and thought omnium could be anything. It's all levels man.

Sham bam bamina!
Nov 6, 2012

ƨtupid cat




artism posted:

brain not good - confused a V for an X
There's another, bigger mistake in the post.

artism
Nov 22, 2011



Sham bam bamina! posted:

There's another, bigger mistake in the post.

I am aware of the dual meaning of ominum. I’m not sure what else is wrong tbh

Sham bam bamina!
Nov 6, 2012

ƨtupid cat




You're, uh, still doing it.

Omnium, not "ominum".

Sham bam bamina! fucked around with this message at 23:25 on Apr 15, 2021

artism
Nov 22, 2011



ah. yes. thanks

artism
Nov 22, 2011



interested in everyone’s interpretation of the bicycle as a metaphor.

I think the point is to keep it as vague and open-ended as possible, like with omnium, or the contents of black box which are never explicitly revealed. maybe it’s more appropriate to think of it as a concept than a particular. I can think of one but it seems ponderous and stupid, which might be part or the joke O’Brien is playing on me, the reader

Hieronymous Alloy
Jan 30, 2009


Why! Why!! Why must you refuse to accept that Dr. Hieronymous Alloy's Genetically Enhanced Cream Corn Is Superior to the Leading Brand on the Market!?!



Morbid Hound

nominations for next month?

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artism
Nov 22, 2011



Fourth Mansions R.A. Lafferty

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