Flann O'Brien's most popular and surrealistic novel concerns an imaginary, hellish village police force and a local murder.
Weird, satirical, and very funny, its popularity has suddenly increased with the mention of the novel in the TV series Lost.
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"His writing is invariably compared to those other Irish greats, Joyce and Beckett, but for me he is infinitely more accessible and much funnier." (Sue Arnold, The Guardian, UK)
"If ever a book was brought to life by a reading, it is this presentation of O'Brien's posthumously published classic. Norton individually crafts voices and personalities for each character in such a way that a listener might imagine an entire cast of voice talent working overtime....[He] ties the ribbon on a perfect presentation of this absurd and chilling masterpiece." (Publishers Weekly)
This is a very funny story but the narrator makes it great. It is surreal so one must suspend logic to enjoy it.
The skill and talent of Jim Norton is unbelievable. I would like to know if he is Irish or not. He has the accent down pat. His ability to interpret the various characters, and there are many weird and wonderful, is fantastic.
It is hard to figure out where this book is going at times, however it has many comical parts and the narrator does a great job. It is written in the same style as Joseph Heller's Catch 22 and I would think that if you liked that book you would also like this one. The book might not make total sense until you finish it though.
Flann O'Brien is an acquired taste but give him a chance - he's worth it.
He has a free associative style of writing and sometimes you wonder where you're going and where you've been - but he's funny, very funny.
I am honest enough to say I didn't get this book and confident enough to admit that it was probably just me. I was able to follow the book, per say, meaning I knew what was going on, but the whole time I kept saying, "What?". I felt lost. Hey - that might have been the point though. The narrator was good - and really it was his soothing voice that kept me going. I kept waiting for something to happen. While tons did in fact happened, but they all left me thinking, "okay NOW it's going to make sense". That never happened. It is a well written book, but, well, just not my kind of book I suppose.
The performer of this book is talented, and makes the work come alive.
The book itself is set in something of a parallel universe, where the laws of time, space, and physics are somewhat different to our own. If you love bicycles and pancakes, then this might be for you. It's much more a work of creative writing than a story. The author is very playful in his use of words. However, his descriptive idiom does show limitations, in that he repeats his obscure descriptive methods a lot. This led me to get a bit of "style fatigue" which set in about half way through the book. There is some clever humour though, very much in the Irish tradition, but not enough story or plot in there to focus my interest for any length of time. Having read about the author, I can well appreciate that he had a lot to deal with in his life apart from writing, and this might explain why he didn't expand a great deal on the microcosm he invented. The ending I though very flat and poor.
Constant references to "de Selby", and associated footnotes, are often very childish and further break up writing which is fairly disjointed to begin with.
It's a fair sized book. Entertaining in parts. Not really a story, and I can't see any message in it, or much to dwell upon after reading it. I'm not surprised he had problems getting this published.
I rate this audiobook as a very well read curiosity, nothing more. You might be surprised to learn that I did enjoy it, despite all the above!
There are a couple of my friends who am sure would enjoy the quirkiness of this novel.
I really can't think of a book to compare it to.
This is the only novel I have heard Jim Norton narrate but I would like to listen to him again.
The Third Policeman is a very strange story that I thoroughly enjoyed. It was very well narrated by Jim Norton and it is a novel I can see myself listening to again and again.
john in RI
I have only purchased one other audiobook-Keep the Aspidistra Flying by George Orwell. They are both excellent.
The narrator because it is his story, although he is telling it while dead.
He was perfect.
I have the feeling the people who hated this saw the word policeman in the title and expected one of those books located by the cash register in the supermarket. If you can't enjoy something because it doesn't "make sense" you won't like this. However if you like Samuel Becket or James Joyce you will find this very funny.
The mind numming nonsense. I kept listening to the end thinking it must get better. What a waste of listening time.
To have not spewed random nonsense on page after page.
The narrator was great. He was not the problem.
Everything from his entering the house to get the black box to his going back to see his partner in crime.
As quoted from the book. "What I [heard] made my brain shrink painfully in my head".
Droll and absurd.
The narrator. His plight was so poignant.
It's hard to imagine this zany mystery story without his voice. Or voices. He can play five parts at once in a funny, convincing way.
Crime and the Art of Bicycle Maintenance
Jim Norton's droll delivery is worthy of a prize. The writing is rich and witty. And the plot is ridiculous. Highly recommended.
"On a Different Planet . . ."
Many reviews have been written about this title elsewhere on the web, so there seems little point in going into granular detail of what it?s about here. Just visit them and I think you?ll get the general picture. As for my opinion of it ? to be honest I?m left in two minds. I started off loving it, then hated it and at the end couldn?t really decide whether I?d enjoyed it or not! Yes, without doubt it?s strange, immensely clever, original (almost a forerunner to Father Ted in some of the more comic elements - guessing a stranger?s name immediately springs to mind for those of you who are fans of the series) and contains some of the best writing I have ?listened to?. The narration is also first rate (yet another Father Ted connection here too).
However, it could just be me but parts of this simply bored the pants off of me. I normally get through a lengthy (12 hours) audio book in a week or two but this one took me over a month and its just under seven hours long! The reason - well there?s only so much otherworldly ?nonsense? you can listen to and not let your thoughts drift off. If you let that happen then you loose the plot of course (not that I?m sure that really matters at times in this case) and have to 'rewind' or take a break from it.
So ? should you get this? It?s difficult to say really. I think some will absolutely love it and others hate it. To be honest its complete rubbish but then again wonderful rubbish ? I?m not being very helpful here am I? Oh go on, if you want to try something different then give it a go and see how you feel at the end of it ? what?s a few quid eh? Now I know how it ends I may even have a re-listen to see how it all pieces together. How many audio books can you say that about? I think I must have liked it (probably)!
Jim Norton is the best reader of audiobooks bar none. His reading of Ulysses is a revelation - making the book readable to me for the first time, but this is also inspiring - and very very funny for O'Brien's tale is a wonderful demonstration of how to make a nonsensical and unfilmable plot into something tangible and compelling. It is a perfect demonstration of how the requirements of logic can appear to be suspended and yet still operating at a narrative level. Totally brilliant all round.
"A tricky man with a tricky pipe!"
Wonderful language and beautifully pitched narration. Lovely use of odd descriptive terms
The use of language and the characters. Its not about the destination....its all about the journey
Like the lovechild of Father Ted and The Guard on acid
Flann O'Brien wrote extensively in an Irish version of English. The odd grammar reflects elements of Irish sentence structure that helps imbue the language with extra absurdity. Its a shame that the influence of the Irish language will be superceded by the cocacolanistion of Ireland (and the UK) by the dominant American media culture
"Terrific reading of a great book"
This is one of the two or three best audiobooks I've yet heard (Julian Rhind-Tutt's Master and Margarita and Anthony Heald's Crime and Punishment both being worth a mention as well.) I'd actually recommend this above just reading the book straight, because Jim Norton's command southern Irish accents and total understanding of the text bring out the humour in a way no voice in your head is likely to. Someone should drag this man bodily back into the studio and MAKE him record At Swim-Two-Birds.
As for the book itself... well, it's possibly the weirdest book I know. Kind of Crime and Punishment meets Alice with a hint of Father Ted thrown into the mix. I think it's a (slightly flawed) masterpiece, others think it's a mess. But even if it doesn't hold together for you, it's probably still worth it just for some absolutely fabulous flights of the comic imagination.
As has been mentioned on another review, this book is not the usual fayre and thus has been received by many with mixed feelings.
It's an odd read: strange happenings - a lot involving bicycles - in pursuit of ill gotten gains. Treachery abounds in a place populated by unusual souls. I kind of understood the main character's predicament and so there were no suprises in the ending for me.
This version is well narrated, though I may have had the occasional quibble with pronunciation. There are footnotes in this book (be warned!) mostly relating to the work of a fictional scientist and philosopher, de Selby, which interrupt the storyline and I'm not sure how these contribute to the plot - really - but Mr Norton deals with these deftly.
I'm not sure I could recommend this book; it certainly held my interest on long, boring commutes, but is that really a recommendation? I don't think I would intentionally sit down to read it; in fact, I've had a hard copy on my bookshelves for a few years now never having passed the first page. Still, the audio was pleasant, but it truly was an odd choice of material.
If you want something weird, odd, strange and befuddling, this is the audio book for you.
"Not for me"
Whilst I could see the whimsy aspect it became repetitive and ultimately boring.
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