London, 1996 (1938)
An insidious book. I started and thought it an unhappy cross between Keep the Aspidistra Flying and Dubliners, but as I progressed it worked through me its tentacles and I cannot escape – I will (I must) quote about Miss Dow and her cabbages, and the eleutherian sentiments of an Irish fire, that will not burn behind the bars of the grate. Some of the foreshadowing is a bit heavy-handed (e.g. Murphy and the gas), but it is funny, though bleakly so. Yet most of its jokes cannot be drawn from their context; every paragraph, every word depends on its proper place in the narrative to be understood. The most melancholy sentence in the whole book is:
The end of the line skimmed the water, jerked upwards in a wild whirl, vanished joyfully in the dusk (158).