My Latest: The Aberrant Lives of Damian Callahan

My latest book The Aberrant Lives of Damian Callahan is now available at Amazon (and other outlets to follow).

The 50-word summary goes like this:

Damian Callahan suffers a head injury that leads to a diagnosis of terminal brain cancer, and sets out on a quixotic journey to pursue the woman of his dreams—a woman who might be a figment of his imagination, only to discover the truth about his life and his death.

If you click on the cover below you can find out more.

This short novel came out of an event I experienced in the summer before seventh grade. Parents tell us never to get into cars with strangers, like the one who in the 1970s pulled to a stop in front of me while I sat on my bike waiting for a traffic light to change. I didn’t get into the man’s car. Every year, some children are not so lucky.

From time to time I always wondered about the “what if” scenario concerning the situation that had happened to me. Would I have survived? Would I have ever seen my family again?

Damian Callahan, the protagonist in my new novel, is not me. He is, however, with all of his flaws, a creation of the “what if” scenario from my own life.

Ordinarily, I don’t offer much in the way of trigger warnings for my work. With this novel, I’m making an exception. Anyone who may have suffered sexual trauma as an adolescent should read The Aberrant Lives of Damian Callahan with caution.

Drop me a line at obrien1writer@gmail.com and let me know what you think about the novel, leave a review, or both. Thanks so much.

Fathers and Sons: The Day JFK Died

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The first time I learned about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy I was a little boy. My father kept a book about JFK on a shelf in the living room. In it was the famous photograph of Kennedy waving to the crowds as his motorcade made its way through Dealey Plaza.

Years would pass before I understood the full impact of the president’s assassination; that time came when I was a freshman in high school. I was listening to the radio on December 9, 1980. John Lennon had been shot dead the previous evening. From John Kennedy to Bobby Kennedy, from Martin Luther King to Malcolm X, and, years later, John Lennon, I developed a growing sense that anyone remotely associated with changing the world for the better ended up dying.

My father never talked to me about Kennedy’s assassination; nor did he ever mention, except in passing, the assassinations of Martin Luther King and other public figures. It wasn’t that he didn’t care; perhaps it had more to do with protecting his children from the ills of the world. Later, after he died, my mother told me a story about how on the day Kennedy was killed my grandfather walked through Yorkship Village to my parents’ house, knocked on the door, and asked to speak to my father. My mother invited her father-in-law in, but my grandfather, so the story goes, insisted that he wait for my father on the common across the street.

It was a Friday afternoon. My mother said that a silence had fallen over the town that day, much as it did in many parts of the country, and my grandfather and my father stood for what my mother thought must have been at least two hours quietly talking.

It has been fifty years since the assassination of President Kennedy, fifty years since my grandfather knocked on my parents’ door and then spoke to his son about what had happened in Dallas earlier that day. I will never know the content or the context of that conversation, a conversation that I imagine happened with many fathers and sons across the country. Whatever wisdom may have been shared between my father and his father, I still wish would have been passed on to me. One day in the future I may have to knock at my son’s door. It would help to know what words to say…

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