I'm a little ashamed that it's over two weeks into the month of May and I have completed exactly one book. Part of that is having just finished exams, but part of it also that the book I have chosen, Flann O'Brien's At Swim-Two- Birds, is not exactly "light reading." It is, in fact, just the opposite.
Here is something similar to a summary: A college student in Dublin is writing a novel. His novel is about a man named Dermot Trellis, who himself is writing a novel. The idea held by both the student and his character is that it is unnecessary to create characters when you can use the ones that exist in the corpus of literature, so Trellis' novel (and by extension the student's, and by extension O'Brien's) is filled with strange characters: cowboys, fairies, and denizens of Irish myth like a pooka (demon) and the legendary hero Finn MacCool, which sounds like a mascot for a family seafood restaurant. But the characters won't stay put and they drug Trellis so that he'll stay asleep and they can do what they please instead of doing what he tells them to do by writing.
So, yeah. The story of the college student is told, but mixed in with it are pieces of his novel as well as whatever excerpts the student feels necessary to include, like a lengthy translation of the legend of Finn MacCool or selections from (probably fictitious) books meant to explicate on given concepts. Structurally, the whole thing is messy, and stylistically it's purposefully formalized and stiff, but humorously so, in a way. I can't on good conscience recommend this to anyone without a certain warped kind of taste, but just beholding it produces in me a certain kind of awe. It lacks a certain sense of direction, but that too is on purpose it seems, and in a way reflects on the character of the student, who constantly avoids doing any real schoolwork.
This is one of those books that you're not sure whether you love or hate. If you're a big Joyce fan, you might enjoy it, because it's as difficult and twice as Irish. Maybe I should just say, "approach with caution."