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It's Like This, Jim

It's Like This, Jim

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It's Like This, Jim

Lunghezza:
92 pagine
1 ora
Pubblicato:
Apr 29, 2015
ISBN:
9781943277940
Formato:
Libro

Descrizione

Ecclesiastic muralist Jack O'Brien (1925 - 2001) painted the ceilings and walls of cathedrals, churches and State Capitol buildings throughout the Northeast United States during the 1950's and 1960's. After a career-ending injury, he rented a Spartan studio in Toronto, Canada, near Markham and Bloor Streets, and embarked on a six year torrent of writing which produced five books (1969-1975). During this time he served as the President of the Canadian Writer's Guild. In his first book, It's Like This, Jim he brings his artist's pallet of colors, compositions and textures to vividly describe love, beauty, war, death and a glimpse of a time that is quickly disappearing. His voice and worldview are original. The book is written as if the author is having a conversation directly with the reader. It is intensely descriptive, powerful, and moving.

Pubblicato:
Apr 29, 2015
ISBN:
9781943277940
Formato:
Libro

Informazioni sull'autore

Jack O’Brien is a retired Petroleum Engineer currently living in Costa Rica, where his chief occupation is writing short stories for the English language newspaper The Tico Times. Having come late to a firm belief in Natural Selection, his main preoccupation is trying to exclude a lectures on Darwinism in every chapter.

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It's Like This, Jim - Jack O'Brien

Publishing

PROLOGUE

Susan (Barberian) O’Brien and Jack O’Brien, circa 1954.

When John (Jack) O’Brien returned from the Second World War, he was visibly and invisibly scarred. He sought refuge in his work as an ecclesiastic muralist. Throughout the United States, he painted ceilings of churches, cathedrals and state capitals. After a scaffolding accident, Jack began to drink before climbing the scaffolds, and he also drank to forget the war.

He met his wife, a fashion illustrator named Susan Barbaryan O’Brien, at the Arts Student League in New York City. Their love was epic. Countless times Susan saved Jack from his downward spiral and helped him stop drinking, and he stopped for years. After a career-ending injury, Jack broke his vow and began to drink and self-destruct again. However, this time it was different. There were now children, including me. I was too young to understand what was going on when my mother took us to Toronto, Canada. But my first recollection of my father was not in person but as a soothing voice on the phone.

When my father recovered, he stopped drinking and then kicked the medications he had become addicted to. She forgave him, and he rejoined our family in Toronto. His presence was immediate and formidable. My memories of him range from a kindly and patient father to an angry man who seemed to be stalking prey within the walls of our house. His memories of the war continued to torment him. In 1969, Jack began to use Susie’s unused studio to write about the war and life as a catharsis.

It’s Like This, Jim was his first book and his only book of poetry. It spilled naturally and effortlessly from his inbuilt artist’s pallet of colors, textures and compositions. He wrote poems about life, love and death. His style was easily recognizable because of his command of detailed description. He read his work at the Canadian Writer’s Guild (in Toronto) to packed and awed audiences. In his second book The Golden Gumball, he wrote about the life and death experiences he shared with his two close friends during World War II. Then came Half Man on a Skateboard, about his Irish-Italian family and their tragic struggle for survival during the Depression. He ended his creative burst of writing with a suspense-thriller called The Terminal Assassins which gained some interest from publishers and the movie industry.

By 1975, he had been writing nonstop for five years. The depression that had weighed him down for years began to lift. I still remember the day my mother rushed into the room and gleefully announced that Dad had written himself out of the stockades. She was genuinely relieved that his writing had served as therapy to reduce his post-traumatic stress, but it had cast a somber mood throughout the house for years.

When we moved to sunny Florida in 1976, my father stopped writing. His depression about the war seemed to recede further and further away. The books he wrote seemed to be a salve over a deep and permanent wound.

For years, I was perplexed that he never published his writing. When I was sixteen, I rented a furnished bungalow four blocks from our house in Sarasota, Florida, for my father to use as a studio and he wrote his final book Valhalla Lost in the bungalow. He never published his books because of a personal dilemma. When he arrived in Toronto in 1968, he had three heart attacks in quick succession, and he believed he would likely die in his forties. As a service-related veteran, he received a pension. If he published, he would lose the pension and my mother would lose her right to her spouse’s benefits. Rather than risk leaving his soul mate and children destitute should he die, he chose not to publish.

Twenty-five years later, in 2001, Jack was in the last stages of dying from lung cancer. Susie, now heavy and matronly, sensed that the end was near and climbed slowly into the hospital bed with him. She sent fluttering kisses across his face: forehead, lips, cheeks and chin. He had been unresponsive for days as his body closed down piece by piece. The last thing he did before leaving this world was to send a brief flutter of kisses back to his love. She had found him again.

* * *

It’s Like This, Jim is divided into three sections: life, love and death. When he was a young man during World War II or on the scaffolds, he thought a great deal about humanity, violence, life and death. His book of poetry presents a profound and original world view. He weaved stories about people, places and times that are both familiar and disappearing from the American landscape. Some of the language is politically incorrect by today’s standards, but it is highly contextualized and written in the language of the day.

While we contemplated changing some of the language of It’s Like This Jim, we did not want to lose the authenticity of my father’s voice. So changes have been kept to a minimum. When he wrote of the various colors of people in the world, he used the colors of the human pallet proffer the idea of a future, enlightened, colorblind ‘golden’ race. In today’s vernacular, the terms – red, yellow and black are deemed offensive, which was not his intention. When he wanted to offend sensibilities, you, the reader, will know from his raucous, cynical language.

The section on love is powerful, honest and raw. He created glimpses into many different types of loves. The love of his soul mate, their physical love, his love of a lost friend, his love of his homeland, and his love of the author Mary Renault for her mind and the gifts she brought to him are only a few of the types of love he illuminates.

Like the section on love, Jack’s reflections on death are poignant and powerful. In Lovers and Friends he asks to be remembered as his "once laughing, loving, lusty self, colossally impudent and irreverent, occasionally illuminated by thoughts he strained

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