Fresh out of college, I read At Swim-Two-Birds at the recommendation of a friend who went on a bit of an Irish literature kick after studying at Trinity College Dublin. Not long after that, I stumbled across The Best of Myles on a visit to The Strand in New York City; so well disposed was I to Brian O’Nolan that I added it to my basket. Plus it was an old, possibly original hardback edition (and pretty beat up at that), and I’m a sucker for old books.
And then it languished in my collection for something like thirteen years!
Push came to shove when an Irish co-worker moved into a new apartment. “Wouldn’t that make for a reasonably appropriate housewarming gift?” I thought. And then later, as I read it: “It certainly makes more sense in his library than in yours.”
Not that I didn’t enjoy it, or that it’s not funny, but I’m not Irish and I have yet to do an obsessive deep dive into Irish history*, so a good portion of the references were beyond me, including the occasional section written in Irish. Hardly surprising, considering that O’Nolan’s “Cruiskeen Lawn” column anthologized in the collection was written in both English and Irish.
An overall fun read, and a reminder that I should dip my toe back in the pool of O’Nolan’s novels. There aren’t that many, after all, so might as well read the entire collection.
*The universe seems to have heard my request in this matter and brought Fintan O’Toole as a guest on one of my favorite podcasts. I immediately put a hold on We Don’t Know Ourselves at the Stockholm library.