If you have a book coming out this year (and maybe even next?), you’re probably shitting your work-pajama-pants right about now. But if you’re the sort of person who deals best with their own dread by hearing about others who had it worse, relax! This dude has you covered.
In 1939 Irish satirist Brian O’Nolan aka Flann O’Brien, who died on this day in 1962, published what is now considered to be one of the greatest English-language novels of the 20th Century: At Swim Two Birds. Unfortunately for Flann, the world was a little distracted at the time. By the outbreak of WWII, the book had sold less than 300 copies (despite having received ringing endorsements from James Joyce, Jorge Luis Borges, and Graham Greene). To compound Flann’s misery, in 1940 his publisher’s premises were destroyed during a bombing raid by the Luftwaffe and almost all the unsold copies of At Swim Two Birds were incinerated.