Third Policeman

By Flann O'Brien,

Book cover of Third Policeman

Book description

The Third Policeman is Flann O'Brien's brilliantly dark comic novel about the nature of time, death, and existence. Told by a narrator who has committed a botched robbery and brutal murder, the novel follows him and his adventures in a two-dimensional police station where, through the theories of the scientist/philosopher…

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Why read it?

3 authors picked Third Policeman as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

I’ll caveat that The Third Policeman isn’t going to delight everyone—it’s a wacky, somewhat bewildering book to wander through.

But it’s also masterfully written, and one of the most creative and exalted ways I know of bicycles appearing in literature.

Probably better known for his novel At Swim-Two-Birds, O’Brien brings the bicycle to life in this murky murder mystery that doubles as a philosophical exploration on humanness and reality.

It’s as if Samuel Beckett wrote a play that prominently features bicycles, directed by the Coen Brothers.

From Evan's list on the beautiful act of bicycling.

An incredible book, disturbing, harsh, and – of course – really, really funny, The Third Policeman is the great dark surreal novel. A simple story of a man who visits a police station, it soon roots itself in a Tristram Shandy-esque mire of absurdity and confusion with its own sense of seeping dread. All Flann O’Brien is superb, but this is the fiercest of all pancakes.

Sometimes we need to be shaken up a bit, like a bike ride over hard cobblestones. And the Irish humorist Flann O’Brien does just that. In The Third Policeman, he introduces us to bikes that have absorbed the molecular makeup of their owners, so they no longer need to be ridden to the pub and can trundle off by themselves, to rural policemen who push and pull at the levers of time, to boxes that are packed within boxes within boxes within boxes. You may not always understand The Third Policeman. But you will almost certainly be delighted by your…

From Jet's list on for a long bike ride.

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