THE HARD LIFE by Flann O'Brien


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As an Irish novel which employs the comic insolence of Frank O'Connor and the invective revelry of Sean O'Casey in the mode of a turn-of-the-century memoir, The Hard Life turns out to be a mordant, yet moving, morality play, full of bizarre folksiness, loony patter. Principally it concerns ""two pishrogues out of the storm"" one a wry innocent, the narrator and observer, and the other, Manus, older brother and as a character as one could wish. They are adopted by garrulous, good natural Mr. Collopy, fond of discussing Dublin mores and machinations and the ""heavenly imperialism"" of . Eventually Manus sets himself up as an international correspondence off London and a British Museum branch office, then starts bottling all one of which he uses, guinea pig style, on Collopy, who swells like a a pilgrimage to Rome, has an audience with the Pope, (appallingly , preposterously funny), and then horribly dies. The recognition scene between the two brothers in which the younger comes finally into his manhood, realizing Manus knows neither guilt nor sorrow, rounds out the book. A little perverse, a but a rare talent nevertheless, and a prime purveyor of people, if not plots. A sweat for

Pub Date: May 1st, 1962
Publisher: Pantheon