Sentence(s) of the Year

by jbloodwell

The last two lines of Flann O’Brien’s At Swim-Two-Birds*:

Well-known, alas, is the case of the poor German who was very fond of three and who made each aspect of his life a thing of triads. He went home one evening and drank three cups of tea with three lumps of sugar in each cup, cut his jugular with a razor three times and scrawled with a dying hand on a picture of his wife good-bye, good-bye, good-bye.

*These lines are in no way a spoiler; thus my putting this important message after the excerpt.

I just rescued this excerpt from my Facebook page, where it was toiling in obscurity, trapped in the little-loved FB “Note” format. The rest of At Swim-Two-Birds has absolutely zero to do with these lines, but is written in a similarly beautiful and surprising style, and its Irish characters speak with the wit and verbal pizzazz you would expect. Among my favorites is a dialogue of several displaced characters from literature in which the others grow obviously bored with the long-winded verse saga of Finn McCool, a figure from Irish legend represented as a tired old man.

Advertisements