The Third Policeman, by Flann O’Brien

The end saved this one a bit for me. I really was not a fan of a lot of the middle, so much of it seemed disconnected from everything and meaningless and confusing, but maybe that was the point.

The end was really surreal and creepy and dark, but the kooky humor of the rest of the book sort of undercut the effect of it I think.

I feel there was probably some meaning I was missing in this one, as nothing seemed to have any connection to anything… a strange read, but not recommended unless it’s your brand of humor.

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I don’t like ‘lol random’

I’ve been reading The Third Policeman by Flann O’Brien, and am finding myself generally annoyed with it, and had some curiosity why, since it seems like the kind of humor I used to really enjoy, in ‘Hitchhiker’s Guide’ for example.

I think the difference is that in Hitchhiker, things that appear random at first are explained later as part of the plot, in a sensible way that makes the seemingly random first encounter even more funny. Whereas in the Third Policeman, nothing ever seems related to anything else. I feel that I could open the book at any point and start reading, and have basically the same experience of confusion and general unease.

The ‘why’ and ‘how’ of things don’t always have to be answered for me. I have a pretty low threshold for sense, I think, compared to most people. But what I want is for what’s happening to at least have some effect on the character, or on me the reader.

The character in Third Policeman seems affected by nothing, even when told he’s going to be executed the next morning, he only has a sort of  halfhearted protest to it, and general idea that he might try to escape.

There were several times that things have been interesting to me, the reader, but had no bearing on the story and no seeming overall affect on the character. Those were fine I guess, but it’s like reading a disconnected series of essays on weird thoughts, more than reading a novel. Which would be fine, if it didn’t present itself as a novel right off the bat by giving the character a clear goal and a clear obstacle to overcome… then just completely disregarding them and jumping headlong into random nonsense for the rest of the book…

I have one chapter left, maybe it will all tie together in the end but I somehow doubt it.

Late night thoughts

Somewhere, there is a tree growing which will some day be cut down and made into your coffin.

No one will ever truly know you, but you.

The person you love most in the world has secrets they will take to their grave, kept even from you.

The things people do for love, when done for any other object or reason, are called either addiction or mental illness.

Eating dead animal parts is really weird if you think about it too much.

You have no choice but to believe in free will.

You won’t remember reading this post a few years from now. How is that different than never having read it?

 

Silence

Could you live without it? I couldn’t. It is like water for my soul–peace and quiet and room in my own head to think.

Silence after being talked to by numerous people is as refreshing as the sudden absence of pain.

 

 

Iconic scenes in literature

Sometimes, stuff just sticks with you. Over weeks or months or years, sometimes that one scene stays burned into your brain. What is it about these scenes that makes them stay? It can sometimes just be a very shocking scene, or maybe its a certain description that really resonates with you and seems so true to life that you can’t forget it. Or something that makes you feel something so strongly that you feel like it happened to you personally.

Analyse these scenes, find out the secret ingredient that makes them so powerful, then use that new found weapon in your own writing. This is why reading constantly is so important to improving your own writing. Read what you want to write, but also grab a random different thing now and then. You never know what you’ll find out there that you can use.

Err on the side of confusion

A bit of advice to writers of TV, movies and books alike: I’d rather be confused than treated like an idiot.

People generally aren’t as slow as you seem to think, dear writers of the stuff I read and watch. You don’t have to make that hint so painfully obvious, or explain this concept or piece of technology in such eye-rolling detail to me. It makes you and your character seem uncomfortably stupid.

I know you’re not that dumb, so don’t assume I am.

Thanks in advance,

A reader.

Fossils, not waves

People often think of their words and actions as waves, rolling across the surface, visible but impermanent, ephemeral, inconsequential. But each word you say, each smile you give, each helping hand you extend can fossilize in the memory of someone, to stick with them for the rest of their lives.

Think back to a fond memory you have. It could be a kind comment from a friend, an unexpected word from a stranger, a wisdom received from someone respected. Now ask yourself if anyone else who was there remembers it themselves? Despite the perceived unimportance of these things to those who give them, you remember them, they stick with you, they are a part of your mythology of self.

You are not a soon-vanished ripple, you are not a gentle wind. Pieces of you will remain lodged inside the minds of those you pass by, long after you yourself have forgotten them.