I wrote a complex feature on my brother John O'Brien's posthumous work for this week's Free Times. "Leaving Las Vegas: Rearview" was sparked by the publication of the anthology Las Vegas Noir (Akashic Books, May 2008) which includes a short story by John called "The Tik."
When I read John's work, my mind and my heart refract his fiction like water bends light. It's just different for me. Hence, although I completely understand the following comments from Publisher's Weekly, they only tell half the story:
The late John O’Brien, best known for his novel-turned-film, Leaving Las Vegas, offers a typically warped and nihilistic vision of the city with “The Tik,” about a thrill-killing duo, narrated by the male half, whose indifference to his prey is chilling.--Publisher's Weekly, March 10, 2007
I knew I had to peel back the layer for everyone to see the real John O'Brien in "The Tik." To do that, I was obliged to look backwards through the lens of all of his posthumous fiction to the days of John's adolescence and my childhood.
As promised in the article, here is a photo post peppered with pertinent links for anyone who'd like to read on and on and on.
Leaving Las Vegas, Johnny, and a monster named Press. A kitchen table view of the calm behind the storm that raged in the wake of John's fiction.
An interview with StradaNove. All sorts of miscellany about John.
What it's like to get the call. A meticulous accounting of the hours following John's suicide.
QRD interview. More Q&A on John and his work.
Shredded telephone books and barbecue dreams. Dead guy residue.
Me, Johnny, Gramp and a bombilation. One of my favorite posts about John, small and quiet.
The John O'Brien Wiki saga. Long, with many imbedded links, but mandatory reading for anyone who looks to Wikipedia for anything anytime. Truly unbelievable.
A column and an associated photo post. Christmas in July with my dad.
A girl named Jag. A love story for Dad.
The crash. How my life splintered into a million pieces in one moment--for the second time.
Dear Dad. A few things I had to say, no matter how late.
Photo by Vernice Northrup.
Meeting Larry Brown. And why his work meant so much to me.