AT WAR

Flann O'Brien, Author, John Wyse Jackson, Editor , edited with an intro. by John Wyse Jackson. Dalkey Archive $13.95 (191p) ISBN 978-1-56478-328-8

Civil 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 )

Reviewed on: 11/03/2003
Release date: 01/01/2004
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 191 pages - 978-0-7156-3025-9
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