In Lieu of a Proper Cinematic Treatment

So, nobody ever made a movie out of The Third Policeman. As far as video goes, this is really all we have:

"I hate you."
"I hate you too."


The beginning of the sharpness

Usually when I read a book, even a really good one, I forget all about it and within a month or two. All I can remember is whether I liked it or not. There are a few books though, or sometimes just certain chapters or even sentences that stick. I catch myself thinking about Infinite Jest once in a while, or prefacing sentences with "And so but then..." I think about Annie Dillard's books pretty much all the time. If you want to learn how to see and pay attention to what is going on around you, you should def. read some Annie Dillard. But anyway, chapter 5 in Third Policeman is one of these things that sticks. This is the chapter where MacCruiskeen shows off his inventions: the small spear and the nested boxes. This is some of the strangest, most surreal and striking writing that I've ever seen.

MacCruiskeen has made a little spear. The tip is so sharp that you can't even see it. He says "What you think is the point is not the point at all but only the beginning of the sharpness." About the invisible sharpness on the end he is asked "What is this inch that is left? What in heaven's name would you call that?" He answers "That is the real point. It is so thin that maybe it does not exist at all."

This idea of things becoming smaller and smaller until they are invisible comes up again with MacCruiskeen's nested boxes. If something can't be seen, and can't be felt, and has no effect on the physical world, how can it be said to exist at all? If you take a very real thing and shrink it down smaller and smaller...when does it stop existing?

I can't even talk about these boxes right now. Maybe later.

It's true that I catch myself repeating this in my head at weird times..."What you think is the point is not the point at all but only the beginning of the sharpness."


Some Thoughts

Definitions of "Kafkaesque"
  • Having a nightmarishly complex, bizarre, or illogical quality
  • Marked by a senseless, disorienting, often menacing complexity

Definitions of "Surreal"
  • Marked by the intense irrational reality of a dream
  • Having the disorienting, hallucinatory quality of a dream; unreal; fantastic

A pitch-perfect line from chapter 4 that gets at the root of this thing:
 "...a very disquieting impression of unnaturalness, amounting almost to what was horrible and monstrous."



As we get started here, I just want to say that this is one of the most unsettling and straight-up creepy books that I've ever read. We'll talk about chapter 5 someday but how about a "smooth inhuman smile" to give you nightmares.

Here are my favorite takes on the main characters. "Favorite" meaning the ones that I found with a 2 minute Google Image search.

De Selby


MacCruiskeen's Bicycle

Sgt. Pluck

Sgt Pluck II


The Third Policeman & LOST

Has anyone seen LOST?

The show was built around some big, complicated, literary themes and symbols and a lot of these have been tied directly to The Third Policeman. The show's producers have talked about the book's influence on the show and you can actually SEE the book in a few scenes from season 2 (Desmond is reading it in the hatch...).

In the Third Policeman, not only do we have the origins of the Smoke Monster and a mysterious Hatch, but there are bigger themes - life, death, purgatory, parallel existences, sin & forgiveness, immortality.

Desmond reading TTP in the Hatch

There are actually LOST book clubs out there that are reading all the books referenced in the show - Third Policeman, Of Mice & Men, Watership Down, tons of Stephen King, A Wrinkle in Time, Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge, Tale of Two Cities, Stranger in a Strange Land..on and on.


Day 1 - The Third Policeman

...and so today we say goodbye to Mr. Bradbury. We're all done with The Martian Chronicles. It was great! Thanks for the memories!

We're starting The Third Policeman today. This is a book I read a few years ago and I've been looking for an excuse (and some time) to read it again. It's a trip.

Just a note - This is a real weird book but the beginning can be a little slow. Please stick with it through the first chapter. All of your dreams will come true, etc.