October 18th, 2015

red-eyed goujun by _mrowr @ muffyface

The Third Policeman

I have to wonder about the me of thirty years ago. Not only did I manage to read At Swim-Two-Birds, which was irritatingly twee when I tried it again a few years back, I also read The Third Policeman without noting the twist, even though an afterword tells you what the twist is. And again, I managed to finish it. I shall finish it this time just to see how the twist works out, but at the moment I'm finding the Nabokovian digressions a bit wearisome and the wordplay too random to be entertaining. I long for a nice mystery with a logical beginning, middle, and end. Nice mystery is currently sitting on the kitchen table.

That said, I'm reminded why I was so enchanted by it first time- the conceit with the bicycles, since back then I'd only just learned to ride a bike myself and thought bicycles the best thing in the world. But the bicycle conceit can be reduced to a one-liner and the rest of the book is slow once it's happened.

Maybe this shallowness is the brain-rot of age or the brain-rot of the internet. Maybe I'd find all my quondem door-stopper favourites impossible now. Tristam Shandy? Look Homeward, Angel? I note that one of my childhood favourites, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, is also impossible. Genre or epistolary novels are all I want to read these days.