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Editorial Reviews

Why we think it's Essential: Jim Norton turns this wild post-modern romp into an accessible absurdist story that sounds as though it has been narrated by a studio full of talent. This modern classic can often make little sense when read, but Norton never misses a beat. While the story ranges from life to afterlife and everywhere in between, Norton keeps us grounded, entertained, and totally engrossed. You might've missed it in lit class, but don't let it roll by now. —Chris Doheny
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Publisher's Summary

Flann O'Brien's most popular and surrealistic novel concerns an imaginary, hellish village police force and a local murder.
Weird, satirical, and very funny, its popularity has suddenly increased with the mention of the novel in the TV series Lost.
© and (P)2007 Naxos Rights International
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Critic Reviews

"His writing is invariably compared to those other Irish greats, Joyce and Beckett, but for me he is infinitely more accessible and much funnier." (Sue Arnold, The Guardian, UK)
"If ever a book was brought to life by a reading, it is this presentation of O'Brien's posthumously published classic. Norton individually crafts voices and personalities for each character in such a way that a listener might imagine an entire cast of voice talent working overtime....[He] ties the ribbon on a perfect presentation of this absurd and chilling masterpiece." (Publishers Weekly)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Amazon Customer on 12-30-09

Narrator extradinaire

This is a very funny story but the narrator makes it great. It is surreal so one must suspend logic to enjoy it.
The skill and talent of Jim Norton is unbelievable. I would like to know if he is Irish or not. He has the accent down pat. His ability to interpret the various characters, and there are many weird and wonderful, is fantastic.

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9 of 9 people found this review helpful


By Darwin8u on 03-01-15

Hell is other people's bicycles.

"Joe had been explaining things in the meantime. He said it was again the beginning of the unfinished, the re-discovery of the familiar, the re-experience of the already suffered, the fresh-forgetting of the unremembered. Hell goes round and round. In shape it is circular and by nature it is interminable, repetitive and very nearly unbearable."

- O'Brien (omitted from the published novel)

After finishing Flann O'Brien's dark masterpiece of absurdity, I wanted to jam a well-chewed copy of Joyce in one pocket, a copy of Sterne in the other, push a DFW in my back left pocket, put some dark strawberry jam in my back right pocket, turn left twice, exit into my tight little garage and immediately make sweet sweet love to the nearest bicycle available. No. Not yet. She's not ready, nor is my review. I'll pick up this peach tomorrow.

So, it isn't tomorrow, but time and peaches are relative in purgatory. This is one of those books that is nearly impossible to review, but there is a space beyond impossible where letting go of this book exists. So, let's press forward shall we? The prose is amazing, funky; it floats and bursts from the page. Like Joyce and other Irish writers, O'Brien OWNs the English language (it is merely mortgaged to us mortals). Reading O'Brien is like watching one of those strange kids who can keep a soccer ball from ever hitting the ground. Gravity just doesn't matter. But let's bounce back to bikes and literature >

So, Flann O'Brien's novel seems to exist in a strange purgatory between Sterne's 'The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman' and DFW's 'The Broom of the System'. It is full of digressions, wooden legs, bicycles, murder, policemen (obviously), footnotes*, and much much more. This is one of those novels where rules are murdered and post-modernism is both born and twisted. There are books that are written to be sold and novels written to be worshiped. Get on your knees fellow travelers and start praying.

Norton's narration is brilliant. Seriously, BRILLIANT.

*O'Brien was out DFWing DFW before DFW was born.

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28 of 32 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Nigel Nicholson on 03-10-14

Imaginative brilliance

Would you consider the audio edition of The Third Policeman to be better than the print version?

Jim Norton is the best reader of audiobooks bar none. His reading of Ulysses is a revelation - making the book readable to me for the first time, but this is also inspiring - and very very funny for O'Brien's tale is a wonderful demonstration of how to make a nonsensical and unfilmable plot into something tangible and compelling. It is a perfect demonstration of how the requirements of logic can appear to be suspended and yet still operating at a narrative level. Totally brilliant all round.

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6 of 6 people found this review helpful


By James Sheldon Sr on 11-08-13

Terrific reading of a great book

Any additional comments?

This is one of the two or three best audiobooks I've yet heard (Julian Rhind-Tutt's Master and Margarita and Anthony Heald's Crime and Punishment both being worth a mention as well.) I'd actually recommend this above just reading the book straight, because Jim Norton's command southern Irish accents and total understanding of the text bring out the humour in a way no voice in your head is likely to. Someone should drag this man bodily back into the studio and MAKE him record At Swim-Two-Birds.<br/><br/>As for the book itself... well, it's possibly the weirdest book I know. Kind of Crime and Punishment meets Alice with a hint of Father Ted thrown into the mix. I think it's a (slightly flawed) masterpiece, others think it's a mess. But even if it doesn't hold together for you, it's probably still worth it just for some absolutely fabulous flights of the comic imagination.

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5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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