Peter O'Brien

W r i t e r ~ E d i t o r ~ A r t i s t

Creative

On LOTS OF FUN WITH FINNEGANS WAKE

Finnegans Wake refuses to stay in its box and, as O’Brien demonstrates, it lures brave, brilliant accomplices dedicated to giving the book wings.” – Denis Boyles, journalist, editor, and author, based in France. His books include The Pocket Professor series (2001) and Everything Explained That Is Explainable: On the Creation of the Encyclopaedia Britannica’s Celebrated 11th Edition (2017).

“Joyce’s universe is vividly presented, and Peter O’Brien’s artwork adds yet more illustrative and intellectual layers onto this rich, inclusive, varied, and variable book.” – Congrong Dai, Professor in the Department of Chinese Language and Literature at Shanghai’s Fudan University, and Co-director of the Confucius Institute for Scotland, University of Edinburgh. Her translation of Book I of Finnegans Wake was awarded China’s Influential Book of 2012 Award.

“Joyce needed only words, but struggled to leave the space of his text alone. In glorious colour, Peter O’Brien here extends this principle and packs material into every spare space.” – Finn Fordham, Professor in 20th Century Literature at Royal Holloway, University of London. He is the author of Lots of Fun at “Finnegans Wake”: Unravelling Universals (2007). He co-edited and wrote the introduction for the Oxford World’s Classics edition of Finnegans Wake (2012).

“Part homage, part autopsy, ‘The echo is where’ sees O’Brien interpolating his own researches and ruminations into the pages of Joyce’s monumental literary folly.” – Betty Ann Jordan is a Toronto-based arts commentator and cultural tour maven. She was an editor at Canadian Art and currently gives seminars through Classical Pursuits.

“… stunning and constantly shifting ingenuity … O’Brien’s sinuous and insinuating text babbles like a brook, flows like a stream, trickles and pools like something spilled and sticky.” – Garry Leonard, English Department and a member of the faculty of the Innis Graduate School in Cinema at the University of Toronto. His books include Advertising and Commodity Culture in Joyce (1998) and Reading Dubliners Again: A Lacanian Perspective (1993).

“O’Brien elaborates on and questions Finnegans Wake as an ‘unreadable’ book and calls it ‘communist’ … He is right – and he does something about it: he puts into practice a counter strategy. If the book is unreadable, it may be ‘writeable.’ ” – German-Irish art historian Christa-Maria Lerm Hayes is Professor of Modern and Contemporary Art History at the University of Amsterdam. She has curated exhibitions in Ireland, South Korea, Russia, France, and the Netherlands. Her books include Joyce in Art (2004).

If I were younger I’d probably spend the next couple of months looking up words and tracking them, trying to come up with a thesis of some sort about the logic and strategies behind this work. But, of course, then I’d be missing its gift, its wonder, its charm, the colors and shapes of the lines and drawing and arrangements, and the fact that unlike our magical Finnegans Wake, this project is visual, it appeals to our eyes with its unconventional and strange and funny and intriguing appearance. And the labor and skill and imagination that went into taking the words of the Wake and transforming them into something so wildly and beautifully new gives it a more intense depth than I’ve seen in any other painting or visual art. What more can I say, except thank you, Peter O’Brien, for this treasure.” Margot Norris, Chancellor’s Professor Emerita who taught at the University of California, Irvine, until her retirement in 2011. Her publications include The Decentered Universe of “Finnegans Wake” (1976) and The Value of James Joyce (2016).

“O’Brien does not represent an organized, collective movement, instead having much in common with art brut: the kind of work produced by solitary figures on the margins of the institutions and markets of the art world, thus bearing witness to another kind of freedom.” – David Spurr is Professor Emeritus at the Université de Genève. He is a trustee of the International James Joyce Foundation and of the Zurich James Joyce Foundation. His books include Architecture and Modern Literature (2012) and Joyce and the Scene of Modernity (2002).

“What a delight to find such an astute defender of the radical aspiration in art! It is increasing hard to find people who love, and take pleasure in art of purposeful difficulty. … You provide an exquisite example of the textual play that nearly every phrase in the Wake animates! Wonderful!” – R. Bruce Elder, FRSC, Filmmaker, Writer, and Professor, School of Image Arts & Graduate Program in Communication and Culture, Ryerson University.

“On the walls … were the jaw-dropping creations of Peter O’Brien, who had taken the pages of the Anna Livia Plurabelle chapter of Finnegans Wake and artfully filled them with colourful annotations and illustrations … Peter O’Brien is apparently doing this for every page of the text. I told him I’d love to have an entire book of this. He shared with me a sneak preview of some of the other pages and they are incredible.” – Peter Quadrino in “Finnegans, Wake!” a blog devoted to Finnegans Wake and the homepage for the Finnegans Wake Reading Group of Austin, Texas.

 

Book Testimonials, Reviews, and Blurbs

“[On Cleopatra at the Breakfast Table] Delightful, clever and downright, laugh-out-loud funny. What a lucky daughter!” – Linda Nielsen, EdD, author of Between Fathers & Daughters and Adolescence: A Contemporary View; former president of the American Coalition for Fathers and Children

“I studied Latin as a kid. This book [Cleopatra at the Breakfast Table] casts a warm light on a father and daughter enjoying some great times together.” – Gordon Lightfoot, singer and songwriter, member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame

“I found this book [Cleopatra at the Breakfast Table] fascinating. I would recommend this book to any parent so that it inspires them to find a similar project to do with their child. I hope this book meets with much success.” – Dr. Ruth, author, television and radio personality, international authority on sex

“Enroll in Latin’s ancient class, find what its value still is: tempora mutantur, nos et mutamur in illis. to hear a daughter’s smiling words and lovingly comment’em: dulce ridentem Lalagen amabo, dulce loquentem.” – Nicholas Ostler, author of Empires of the Word: A Language History of the World

“This is so interesting, and it’s great that you two were able to connect over this book [Cleopatra at the Breakfast Table].” – Matt Galloway, CBC Radio

“By turns funny, insightful, and moving, O’Brien connects ancient history to contemporary family life in a fresh and thoroughly engaging way. Cleopatra at the Breakfast Table not only makes me want to be a better parent to my own teens, but also inspires me to dive even deeper into the endlessly fascinating classical world over which he and his daughter bonded.” – Vicky Alvear Shecter, author of Cleopatra Rules! The Amazing Life of the Original Teen Queen

“[On INNING] Engaging and articulate, like listening to a first-class baseball announcer. Wonderful tidbits of trivia. A must for every fan of the Blue Jays.” – W. P. Kinsella, author of the book Shoeless Joe, which became the movie Field of Dreams

“… savvy irreverence … bracing and unexpected combinations, this guide [Build a Better Book Club] propels us down any number of dream paths we might travel … down-to-earth approach … chatty, accessible tone.” – The Hamilton Spectator

“Book clubs, say the authors of this guidebook, are one of the hot literary trends. … They’re right too. … Heft and O’Brien, book-club veterans both, offer a complete inventory, from finding the right mix of people to structuring meetings and inviting guest speakers. An appendix lists 200 thoughtfully chosen works of both fiction and non-fiction to get you going.” – The Globe and Mail

“… electricity, banter, stimulation – call it [Build a Better Book Club] what you will …” – Westender

Build a Better Book Club will prove indispensable … helpful advice on a surprising variety of topics.” – Chapters Indigo

“One of the hottest trends … is the book club and the authors offer advice on everything from the books themselves … to creating the right social dynamic among your members.” – The Vancouver Province

“… interesting and informative reading. … the interviewer / letter writer, Peter O’Brien, was well-matched with the authors. … So To Speak is, unfortunately, the kind of book too often consigned to library shelves, appreciated by students and not the general reading public. With any luck, though, its worthiness to the average reader will be recognized.” – Marc Côté, The Globe and Mail

“… illuminating in an intellectual way … these interviews are fascinating and immensely valuable for their informal views they give us of creative minds at work.” – George Woodcock, Books in Canada

“A refreshingly random literary tour … The random nature of the book is the most refreshing thing about it. O’Brien’s intention was to provide a cross-section of literary voices – male and female, new and old, poet and storyteller – and ‘let the traditions falls where they may.’ So To Speak succeeds in doing that.” – Joel Yanofsky, The Montreal Gazette

“These interviews [in So To Speak] answer a modern need to add document to creation – a form of oral history … into … writers, their artistic experiments, their strivings, sincerities, postures and endeavours.” – Leon Edel, Winner of the National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize

So To Speak: Interviews With Contemporary Canadian Writers has something for every reader: human interest, political comment, the creative process, and more. … Editor Peter O’Brien manages to avoid ivory-tower irrelevance.” – Quill & Quire

“[The interviews] have spontaneity and that sense of exchange, rather than of statement, normally associated with the form. Certainly this volume contributes handsomely to our appreciation of writers and writing. … There is an openness in attitude in So To Speak.” – Essays on Canadian Writing

“I found Fatal Recurrences very enjoyable. Reading through themes and styles was like walking through the city…” – The Observer

“… a grab-bag of jarringly diverse styles and approaches, ranging from the stiffly conventional to the wildly experimental … the writers include in Fatal Recurrences are indeed accomplished, and their work is worth reading.” – Robert Stewart, The Montreal Gazette

“This is a collection [Fatal Recurrences] of intriguing, some very good, writing, questioning themes and realities that escape the city limits. This breaking of borders seems to me a great and powerful advantage.” – Alberto Manguel, currently Director of the National Library of Argentina, in NOW

Rubicon should be applauded for its international vision… it regales us with in-depth interviews … home-grown poetry and fiction (both of high caliber), an abundance of consistently well-written reviews and the further pleasure of visual art.” – Irish Literary Supplement

“[On Rubicon] Interesting and authoritative … one of the major literary magazines we have in this country.” – Christopher Dewdney, Finalist for the Governor General’s Award for Poetry, and the Charles Taylor Prize; winner of the Harbourfront Festival Prize

“Surprisingly well-organized.” – Poetry Canada Review

“ ‘Traditionally, the history of modern literature in Canada begins with The McGill Fortnightly Review,’ [David McKnight] says. … McKnight considers Rubicon (1983-1989), edited by Peter O’Brien … to be ‘the most ambitious and most national in scope.’ ” – The McGill Reporter

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