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Heather O'Neill (1) (1974–)

Teoksen Lullabies for Little Criminals tekijä

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Tietoja tekijästä

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Tekijän teokset

Lullabies for Little Criminals (2006) 1,571 kappaletta, 77 arvostelua
The Lonely Hearts Hotel (2017) 672 kappaletta, 32 arvostelua
The Girl Who Was Saturday Night (2014) 257 kappaletta, 20 arvostelua
When We Lost Our Heads (2022) 220 kappaletta, 9 arvostelua
Daydreams of Angels: Stories (2016) 133 kappaletta, 6 arvostelua
Wisdom in Nonsense: Invaluable Lessons from My Father (2018) 22 kappaletta, 4 arvostelua
two eyes are you sleeping (2013) 6 kappaletta, 1 arvostelu

Associated Works

Darwin's Bastards: Astounding Tales from Tomorrow (2010) — Avustaja — 92 kappaletta, 2 arvostelua
Whatever Gets You Through: Twelve Survivors on Life after Sexual Assault (2019) — Avustaja — 24 kappaletta, 2 arvostelua

Merkitty avainsanalla




Lullabies and Little Criminals (no spoilers), Orange January/July (heinäkuu 2012)


A lovely, sad book about a young girl being raised -- or, more accurately, not raised -- by a drug-addled father in Montreal's toughest neighborhoods. Baby -- yes! that's the main character's name! -- is easy to like, and, even if your father wasn't a less-than-reliable sometime-heroin addict, to identify with, but what I found really remarkable about this book is how aware O'Neill is of the wall that separates childhood from adulthood. While the author clues the reader into the fact that Baby does, in fact, make it through, Baby's ideas, behavior, and expectations are clearly that of a child. This sounds obvious enough, but it's no mean feat: too many authors depict children as either complete innocents who lack any agency whatsoever or as miniature adults. But Baby is sometimes so believable that could be Scout Finch on smack: she craves, and falls for, the same things that most kids do. She wants to be liked, to feel safe, to be told, as she enters puberty, that she's special and attractive. In her neighborhood -- and in her crowd -- this gets her into real trouble.

Even so, O'Neil's voice is so fresh and vibrant that it makes "Lullabies", despite its often lurid and depressing subject matter, is a true marvel. O'Neil seems to have a preternatural talent for expressing the excitement of doing or feeling something for the first time, even if it's the sort of thing that thirteen-year-olds shouldn't be doing or experiencing. It certainly doesn't hurt that O'Neil has the talent -- and the sheer daring -- to lace her account of Baby's with some inspired -- and sometimes downright heart-stopping -- poetic language. Her description of Baby's experimentation with drugs is astonishingly beautiful and raw, the sort of description that makes you wonder if there might really be something to this whole opium-eating thing. Another element that shines here is O'Neil's description of Baby's relationship with her incorrigible father. Jules is, by most accounts, a screw-up -- he refers to himself, at one point, as a "misfit" -- but there's no denying the intensity of their bond, or the power of the feelings that they've invested in each other. They come together only to split up. He goes on benders, she gets put into the foster system once or twice and finds herself in some temporary, informal family arrangements. But really abandoning each other seldom comes up as a serious option. The author is making a point here, I think: when compared with the most common alternatives, such as institutionalization or street life, even Jules and Baby's imperfect family bond has real value.

O'Neill's novel also nostalgic, and perhaps in a way that she didn't mean it to be. Published a few years before smartphones became ubiquitous, the "Lullabies for Little Criminals," which is set somewhere in the eighties, sounds like a message from another time. The slice of downtown Montreal is dirty and dangerous, the apartments that she and her father, Jules, live in are cheap and in bad shape. I don't know what downtown Montreal looks like these days, but I imagine that Baby and her father couldn't afford to live there these days and that most of it has been turned into condos. There are no text messages here, no social media, and most of the businesses that Baby visits are cash-only. This makes Baby's experience and social circle a bit more private, more hidden, perhaps, from the adults around her. In an age where information economy has further blurred the line between childhood and adulthood, this makes "Lullabies for Little Criminals" seem like a transmission from another age.

Some readers will undoubtedly be turned off by this novel's subject matter, and others by the frank way that teenage sexuality is treated throughout the text. But I was expecting something light and slightly scandalous when I picked this one up and was pleasantly surprised by how well-crafted and emotionally affecting it was. Recommended to everyone who doesn't mind when decidedly adult content is described through a child's eyes.
… (lisätietoja)
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TheAmpersand | 76 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Jun 24, 2024 |
Deliriously decadent, wry, and darkly charming. I’m obsessed with the fanciful imagery and writing; it skews way more towards “tell” rather than “show”, but it works so well here! This book is like if someone made a queer retelling of Sofia Coppola’s 2006 “Marie Antoinette” and then injected it with cocaine, women’s rage, and sugar.
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deborahee | 8 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Feb 23, 2024 |
I am finishing this book at the end of a cycle of six recent books by and about women including The Foundling, by Ann Leary, Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus, The Wonder by Emma Donoghue, I’m Glad I My Mom Died by Jeannette McCurdy, and She Holds Up the Stars by Sandra Laronde (for young adults).

The theme of women in evolution or revolution is consistent with all of these books. Closest to O’Neill’s satirical and scatological novel is Garmus’ Lessons in Chemistry, although both are deadly serious in these post-ME TOO books.

O’Neill is one of our funnier Canadian writers. She comes from the same rich vein of Quebec humour that animates Mordecai Richler, Roch Carrier, and the social commentary of Gabriel Roy, and Mavis Gallant.

I come from Toronto not Montreal and only dream of a writer who can do for the streets of Toronto what Heather O’Neill does for the streets and history of Montreal.

She creates a counterpoint of revolution between the French Revolution beginning in 1789 and another imagined revolution in Montreal in the mid nineteenth century roughly contemporary with the social revolutions of Europe including the Revolutions of 1848 that rocked Paris, the German states, Ireland, Hungary, Denmark, Moldavia, Poland, and others.

It is sometimes called The Springtime of Peoples.

This book might be dubbed “The Springtime of Righteous Pornography.”

Her characters carry the names of French revolutionaries including Jean-Paul Marat, Robespierre, thrown in with other characters in popular imagination including Marie Antoinette and the Marquis de Sade. Then she adds what appears to be one of her literary heroines, an ugly but prolific cross dressing George Sand.

We watch the evolutions of an artist and a capitalist. We also see women rise from their chains. From the control of rapists in the mold of film producer Harvey Weinstein. And we see women rise from the chains of gender, the suffocation of conventions placed on their sexuality, the writings of history where women have been written out.

Of course, this story is something of a Western-centric liberation fractured fairytale. We know that women in other cultures are far from liberation. Likewise people of other genders.

In an interview O’Neill herself tells us she intentionally satirized the “lean in” feminism of Sheryl Sanberg through Marie Antoine who becomes something of a she-devil after the death of her father and rape by her suitor.

Her lover and childhood friend Sadie takes to the pen to liberate herself from Victorian social mores.

The dénouement the story is something of a Wildean escapade with missing family members, revenge, and shocking revelations.

O’Neill took her time mashing genres.
… (lisätietoja)
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MylesKesten | 8 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Jan 23, 2024 |
It’s difficult to avoid being charmed by O’Neil’s satire of life among the natives of inner Montreal. Her heroine, Noushka Trembley, navigates the treacherous shores of nationalist snobbery and masculine megalomania to emerge somehow a little stronger and, amazingly, somewhat sober.

In this novel, Quebec is really a distinct society with its celebrity obsession, Catholic priests who covet story-telling children, and biker capitalists.

Or maybe not so distinct. All Canada is a little bit obscene.

The scene is the 1995 Quebec referendum on sovereignty, and background is Canada’s refusal to accept Quebec as a distinct society and left it out of Canada’s Constitution. It is still, in my opinion, a national disgrace not for Quebec but for Canada.

Nicolas and Noushka, twins born and then almost immediately abandoned in a kind of virgin birth tumble in the manger. English and French. Male and Female. Beauty and Beastliness. Right and Wrong.

There is love story built in between Mary Magdalene who becomes the Virgin Mary in a cockeyed telling of the story where Jesus saves his tormentors the trouble by doing himself in.

Where O’Neil’s structure struggles a little in a rambling narrative she recovers in astonishingly beautiful prose and soaring imagination, comparable with Henry Fielding or Lawrence Sterne or some of the great Russian satirists. (And nobody accused Sterne of a rambling narrative?)

What Mordecai Richler did for Montreal Jews, she does for its Catholics.
… (lisätietoja)
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MylesKesten | 19 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Jan 23, 2024 |



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