Category: Book Report

Book Report: At Swim-Two-Birds by F. O’Brien

At Swim-Two-Birds by Flann O’Brien is an autobiographical novel published in 1939. The book is written from the point of view of a nameless Irish literature student who is writing three independent stories that constitute the plot of the book.

The book is a combination of farce, humor, parody, and fantasy. It is remarkable due to the innovative literary techniques used by O’Brien. The conspiracy of characters against the author is an outstanding device that makes O’Brien’s book significantly different from other works of fiction of that time. Dalmot Trellis, a talentless pulp fiction writer, whose characters start a rebellion against him, is a brilliant grotesque character. He is a self-parody of the author and reflects his satirical view on the profession of a writer. The narrator’s “biographical reminiscences”, on the contrary, provide a realistic perspective of the story. The narrator is different from the characters, and his image is largely based on O’Brien’s personal experience. In this respect, the book is a bit philosophical since it dwells upon the hardships of student life and develops a kind of everyday philosophy that is supposed to be applicable to the students.

The story also seems to be rather entertaining. It contains a lot of humorous episodes that always keep the reader’s attention alert and inspire their imagination.

As a conclusion, it can be noted that this book may seem extravagant and sometimes unclear. However, at the same time it is highly intellectual since it is a synthesis of multiple literary genres and techniques. However, the peculiarities of the author’s style and numerous parody techniques require some patience and certain background knowledge from the reader since O’Brien’s style reflects significant influence of J. Joyce and T. Beckett. This is why the reader needs to have at least a generalized idea about modernist poetics in order to fully understand the book.

Book Report: A Pagan Place by Edna O’Brien

A Pagan Place is a novel by Edna O’Brien that was published in 1970. It deals with post-independence Ireland and can be classified as a psychological social novel.

First of all, this book is special due to its style. The whole story is written in second person, and there is no explicit narrator. This technique was O’Brien’s innovation and served to emphasize the feeling of loss and frustration experienced by Irish women after the declaration of independence. Traditional first-person narrative is used in the novel only once and serves as a literary device that shows the formation of the main character’s identity and underlines her final recognition of herself and awareness of her place in the society. This is the indication that the character has turned from a child into a woman.

The book is extremely appealing due to the profound insight into the character’s psychology. The author brilliantly creates the image of the world as it is perceived by a child. A peculiar feature of the style that draws the reader’s attention is fragmentary structure of the narrative. The story makes sudden leaps and unexpected turns that are justified by the na?ve character. The child leaves out what is unclear or frightening and concentrates on things that seem friendly and familiar.

A realistic portrayal of Ireland is also a significant characteristic feature of the book. Choosing a child as a protagonist enables the author to describe the flaws of the contemporary society with childish sincerity and straightforwardness. Her depiction of poverty, alcohol abuse and social inequality is fully realistic and makes the reader reconsider their opinion about the things that surround them and refresh their set of values.

A Pagan Place is a great book for readers who are interested in psychology and are ready to look into the character’s mind. Though not particularly dynamic, the story is absorbing, and the reader cannot stop wondering what they will learn next.

Book Report: TransAtlantic by Colum McCann

TransAtlantic by Colum McCann is a novel published in 2013. It is a historical novel with elements of non-fiction that focuses on Irish-American relations. The story is set in the early 20th century, namely, in 1919, when the first nonstop transatlantic flight was registered.

The book is worth reading since it deals with really important social issues of that time. It provides a historical overview of Irish peace process and at the same time describes the peculiarities of social relations between Irishmen and Americans. The author skillfully intertwines several storylines, such as historically accurate narrative about Frederick Douglas’ visit to Ireland, the first transatlantic flight and fictional stories about women that are used to unite different chapters by means of a common theme.

The author has a distinguished writing style that cannot be left unnoticed by the reader. McCann’s work is characterized by unique syntax. He often uses simplified syntactical constructions and elliptical sentences that help to create an atmosphere of intimacy. The reader can easily visualize the events described since they seem to be happening in real time due to the specific usage of syntax. However, in certain chapters the author seems to lose his friendly tone. The text sounds rather official and high-flown. This mostly concerns the descriptions of historical events that sometimes seem to be too lengthy. For example, a speech of an American politician devoted to St. Patrick Day may seem unnecessarily wordy and distracting since the reader’s interest may be diminished.

As a conclusion, it can be admitted that the book deals with universal themes, such as war and peace, prejudice, justice, and so on. Though sometimes they might seem a little generalized, these topics still remain interesting and important for readers of any age. It is also historically valuable since the author manages to overcome the inevitable influence of modern literary trends and recreate the atmosphere of the early 20th century.

Book Report: Amongst Women by John McGahern

Amongst Women is a novel by John McGahern that was published in 1990. The book incorporates the features of historical and social novel, focusing on the life of a former IRA officer and a veteran of guerilla war, Michael Moran.

The book’s appeal to the reader first of all lies in the peculiar writing style of the author. The novel is not divided into sections or chapters, and the text flows dynamically without any interruptions. This technique helps to keep the reader’s attention and increase their curiosity. Since the story deals mostly with everyday life and social relations, the events are developing at a measured pace that is supposed to repeat the tempo of real life. The author does not insert any vivid dramatic scenes into the narrative, and there are no unexpected plot turns. The novel is basically a study of life of rural communities in post-colonial Ireland. This is why the primary focus of the author’s attention is on the family of the main character, Michael. The novel underlines the importance of maintaining connections with the past and respecting traditions. Relations between generations and the problem of generation gap are also discussed in the book. This is why the novel can be characterized as deductive to some extent.

As a conclusion, it should be noted that the universal nature of the described issues makes it especially interesting to modern readers who are likely to associate themselves with the characters. Moreover, the social values praised in the novel might also be of interest to modern readers. Traditional family-centered social norms have been losing their significance in recent decades. However, the author attempts to revive family values and reconsider the problem of conflicts between different generations. Another universal topic that cannot be overlooked by the reader is the dialectal connection of personality and society. The influence of the society on an individual has always been a vital topic to discuss, and in this novel it is described with much skill and knowledge.

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