Sunday, October 12, 2008

People Who Walk Upstairs

I don't own the same edition of THE THIRD POLICEMAN as my students. I got mine at a library book sale over twenty years ago and if the Mobile Public Library hadn't happened to be tossing it out, I may never have run into Flann O'Brien. If you had told me back then that one day I would be teaching the book in college, well, I would have reeled at the insult and rushed home to cry myself to sleep. But that's not my point! I glanced at the introduction to the recent paperback version, and it contained something interesting that Hugh Kenner said in a discussion of Samuel Beckett. Kenner wondered why so many fiction writers (aside from Beckett) think it is so very fascinating to write about "people who walk upstairs, walk downstairs, eat eggs, quarrel, marry, converse with clergymen, and ride in trains." I think it is a fair thing to wonder!