Leaving Las Vegasby John O'Brien
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Leaving Las Vegas, the first novel by John O'Brien, is a disturbing and emotionally wrenching story of a woman who embraces life and a man who rejects it, a powerful tale of hard luck and hard drinking and a relationship of tenderness and destruction. An avowed alcoholic, Ben drinks away his family, friends, and, finally, his job. With deliberate resolve, he burns the remnants of his life and heads for Las Vegas to end it all in the last great binge of his hopeless life. On the Strip, he picks up Sera, a prostitute, in what might have become another excess in his self-destructive jag. Instead, their chance meeting becomes a respite on the road to oblivion as they form a bond that is as mysterious as it is immutable. Leaving Las Vegas tells a powerful story of unconditional love between two disenfranchised souls who connect for a fleeting moment.
Praise for Leaving Las Vegas:
“A brutal and unflinching portrait of the low life in the city of high rollers, Leaving Las Vegas is both shocking and curiously exhilarating. John O’Brien was a stunningly talented writer who created poetry from the most squalid materials. This is a beautiful and horrifying novel.”Jay McInerney
“There is not a false note in the novel . . . O’Brien has a strong tradition behind him here, that of American naturalism, and he fits into it well. From Stephen Crane to Hubert Selby, Jr. . . . [O’Brien] achieves real power in his writing. You seldom encounter it anymore, but when you do you know you’ve been properly whacked by a real talent.”New York Daily News
“Here is that rarest jewel, a really fine novel. It’s a magical piece of work, one of the best I’ve seen in a long time. John O’Brien has a very great talent.”Larry Brown
“This book is not only dark and dire, it is crushing. How can a novel so absolutely devoid of hope be so gripping? The portrait of Sera and Ben is a tour de forcemasterful and relentless. Leaving Las Vegas is the strongest and most extreme look at alcohol I’ve ever read. This book moved and bothered me and weeks later it is still in my mind. I think O’Brien is simply terrific.”Ron Carlson
“[An] immense writing talent . . . John O’Brien’s life ended with a gunshot. Leaving Las Vegas, for its intensity, its bravado, and its legacyan American tragedy that would pave the way for many moreonly begins to understand why.”Esquire
“An oddly romantic, bender-to-oblivion book.”Entertainment Weekly
“The novel imbues its main characters with something the movie can only hint at: an acute awareness of the extremeand chosencircumstance of their lives. The book’s unique power resides in this awareness; and it allows O’Brien to breathe new life into two of the most familiar and overused archetypes of popular fiction: the drunk and the whore . . . Ben’s impulse to destroy himself is so psychologically unspecific as to be sublime.”Boston Review
- Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
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- 2 MB
Meet the Author
John O’Brien was born in 1960 and lived most of his life in California until his death in 1994.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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Never has a book or character so completely broken me down emotionally. I have never encountered a character who brought hope, sadness, sympathy, and anger all wrapped into one. O'Brien creates a character that lives in all of us, although we may not admit it, he gives us hope of acheving true love in the most dire circumstances. O'Brien's ability to creat such a beautiful love between two disenchanted and lost souls is a reminder that the world lost a truly great writer
The thing about Leaving Las Vegas is that it doesn't drift. Just as the lead character is set on drinking himself to death in Vegas, so the plot thickens with tastefulness until that last drink. And I say this although I am not an imbiber. Ranks right up there with Heinrich Boll's The Clown and Camus' The Fall.
One of the most brilliant stories ever written. A saga of unqualified acceptence, and a magnificent character study of what is to be an alcholic. O'Brien captures perfectly the heart of what humanity's two strongest emotions are-love and determination. Beyond alcholism, the book uniquely reveals the gripping conflict between the integrity of oneself and love for another. It's a wonderful novel, and I cannot recommend it enough.