If Alice in Wonderland had a wooden leg

Genre: philosophical dark comedy. Stars from Goodreads: 4.02. Stars from me: 4.

The Third Policeman was written by a person called Brian O’Nolan under the pseudonym Flann O’Brien. It was written between 1939 and 1940 but was published only much later by O’Nolan’s widow. It was called a masterpiece, but O’Nolan never learned about this. During his life two publishers refused to publish his book. One of the publishers told O’Nolan to “become less fantastic”. O’Nolan then placed the manuscript in his kitchen where he could see it, but told his friends that the manuscript was lost when it flew out of his car, page by page.

The Third Policeman is surreal, absurd and funny. I listened to the audiobook which is not the best medium for this book. It should be read to be understood better. Still, it seems like at some places the book is supposed to be too absurd to comprehend.

The Third Policeman is like Alice in Wonderland where Alice is a one-legged criminal and the Wonderland is macabre and even more surreal.

The aftertaste of the book is dark and haunting but you will laugh a lot while reading it. I laughed so hard I disturbed people around me. At some places, though, the book gets so tedious it feels like toothache. It is boring for the same reason as it is genius. The book’s essence is in its dialogues and philosophy. There are many references to the works of a fictional philosopher called De Selby. De Selby has lots of peculiar beliefs. For example, one of his theories is that the Earth is not a sphere but a sausage. For each such theory De Selby provides a proof. It gets simultaneously boring and funny, you never know which one will happen next. De Selby as a creation was so successful that he was used in other books too, one of which was written by a different author.

The ideas of The Third Policeman were used for Lost TV series. Also, I can see the resemblance between the book’s ideas and the ones of Lucifer TV series.

The Third Policeman is an influential book. It might be disliked by readers who prefer more action, but it’s the right book for people with an unconventional sense of humor who wouldn’t mind to be puzzled by impossible ideas.

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2 thoughts on “If Alice in Wonderland had a wooden leg

  1. This sounds really strange… not that keen on philosophy so I might give it a miss. How did you hear about the book, or did you find it when browsing?

    1. Haha, really strange is the right word. Sometimes I was really yelling at the book: “what are you doing to my brain and why?!” It was in my to be read list on Goodreads that I composed back around 2012 and then forgot all about it. I don’t remember why I chose it. It was probably offered to me by Goodreads based on my previous reviews. So, it’s karma, in a way.

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