Thursday, August 1, 2013

Travel Writing

The "Criticism" chapter of Further Cuttings from the Cruiskeen Lawn includes Flann O'Brien's review of Frank O'Connor's book Irish Smiles. A bit came to mind today:
    Mr O'Connor's book is good in parts, and in parts very good. Some of it is interesting, for reasons unknown to Mr O'Connor....
    Mr O'Connor's is a clinical attitude. He tries to suggest that his relationship with these people is that of a scientist examining his specimens. Personally I am by no means so persuaded. I think the specimens have analytic powers at least as good as Mr O'Connor's but functioning much more efficiently, since the specimens are at home in their own kitchen, dressed soberly according to their station, quite at ease and with judgment unimpaired by superciliousness. What was said after Mr O'Connor left?
    That is the snag in all egocentric writing. Its incompleteness is mortifying. Having read the book, why cannot the reader read the Other Book?
Further Cuttings is not consistently as good as The Best of Myles, but bits and pieces--some of the criticism, the monologues and dialogues are.

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