Jack O’Connell Week in a Nutshell…

The Resurrectionist

Thanks to Ellen Datlow, Kelly Shaw, Ron Hogan, and, of course, Jack O’Connell for contributing to this Resurrectionist/O’Connell appreciation week. I hope you’ve enjoyed it. (You can find out more about the novel at Enter Limbo.) To finish things off, check out my Omnivoracious interview with O’Connell for those who missed it the first time around.

Finally, here’s a summary of the week’s posts, for ease of reading. If you like O’Connell’s work, please post a link to this recap on your blog, and spread the word!

Ellen Datlow on Jack O’Connell’s Novels
I’ve been a fan of Jack O’Connell’s novels since reading Box Nine, his first, introducing the fictional town of Quinsigamond. Each subsequent novel is very different despite the locale: Box Nine verged onto sf/horror territory by introducing a new street drug that works on the language center of the brain, causing the user to process thoughts hundreds of times quicker than normal and in the case of an overdose, pushing the user into violence and insanity. In Wireless, the “Wireless” of the title is a retro hangout for jammers, the radio wave equivalent of computer hackers who evade the law while wreaking chaos on the official system. It is antic, volatile, clever, and entertaining.

Jack O’Connell on His “Baptism”
Late spring, 1969: John and Yoko stage a bed-in for peace in Montreal. Warren Burger becomes Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Hee Haw premiers on American television. And back in wormtown, as the weather turns warm, my obsession with the space program begins to reach fever pitch. I’ve spent the last year memorizing details of the Mercury, Gemini, and (the first 10) Apollo Project missions. I know the names and the positions of all the crews in the same obsessive manner with which my buddies know the batting average of Yaz or the ERA of Jim Lonborg. The walls of my bedroom are covered with the fold-out posters from the Doubleday mail-order Science Service club—all those wonderful maroon boxes containing pamphlets and maps and cards and whatnot. I am embarrassingly proud that my city’s David Clark Co. produces the astronauts’ pressurized suits. Jules Bergman is my lifeline to NASA.

As Jack O’Connell week continues, I’d like to know if you have a favorite O’Connell novel. Not having read Word Made Flesh, I can’t comment on that novel, but I do very much love Box Nine and The Resurrectionist in particular.

Kelly Shaw on The Resurrectionist
The Resurrectionist is a truly moving, original marriage of dark noir and vibrant fantasy; of black-and-white alleys and magical circus acts. It’s filled with measured prose, spot-on characterizations and dialogue, unpredictable storytelling, and an undercurrent of melancholy. Can you tell it’s one of my favorite reads of recent years?

O’Connell on “That LOFP Sound”
Almost exactly a year ago, stunned to find self in the midst of a Jimmy Webb binge, I could not imagine wandering into less likely musical terrain. But here I am, this week, still burned out from the road, unfocused, distracted, empty-headed…and in the middle of a Dusty Springfield binge that shows no sign of concluding any time soon.

Ron Hogan on the “Truly Weird”
As Ron Hogan tells Ecstatic Days, “Cracking open a Jack O’Connell novel for the first time is like watching your first David Lynch film. Quinsigamond may look a LITTLE sketchy on the surface, but you start poking around, and you begin to realize that the world is filled with some truly weird, truly dark shit. Anybody can do depravity in the shadows for cheap effect, though–Jack’s stories work because he gets you genuinely caught up in his characters’s lives.”

O’Connell on “The Notebook”
“Good Christ,” I can hear him muttering. “Not another ramble on the meaning of notebooks.” As usual, I mostly agree with Hector (my pet name for the imagined reader in the shadows, always a little bitchy, never prepared to give me an inch). “Didn’t Ms. Didion cover this subject pretty splendidly about four decades ago?” H asks. “You really think you might have something to add?” Probably not. But let’s find out.

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