books

obrienALL ROADS (TriQuarterly Books/Northwestern University Press) can be pre-ordered here.

Praise for ALL ROADS:

“A compelling and exquisitely written collection about the American dream and the earnest, determined, and willfully naïve people who want what this land promised them, whether they are ready for it or not. Honest in its portrayal of life and all its foibles, heartfelt in its depiction of addiction and loss, and at times, funny as hell, All Roads is the perfect book for now and I couldn’t be more excited to see what O’Brien does next.” —Courtney Maum, author of Touch

“Colleen O’Brien’s gaze is unflinching and brutally tender, and the stories she tells capture the jangly rhythms of lived experience. These stories are smart and piercingly observant. They are subtly, almost scarily affecting. Imagine walking into a room you’ve never been in, then feeling a jolt of recognition. That is the power of great story writing, and that’s how good All Roads is.” —Daniel Orozco, author of Orientation and Other Stories

“In these exquisitely crafted stories, Colleen O’Brien perfectly captures and chronicles the lives of lapsed Catholic, Midwestern families shattered by divorce, alcoholism, domestic violence, dysfunction, and—perhaps most destructive of all— love: earnest, flailing, and too often insufficient. And here is O’Brien, picking up the shards and piecing them together as if to suggest that it is only by regarding ourselves through the fractured prism we call ‘family’ that we can ever make sense of our past, and ever hope to envision a future.” —Thisbe Nissen, author of How Other People Make Love

obrien_fullcov1t.inddSPOOL IN THE MAZE (DIAGRAM/New Michigan Press) can be ordered here (scroll down).

Praise for SPOOL:

“For Colleen O’Brien, a word is myriad inside, like a geode.  So is a sentence, so is a painting, so is a scribbled note whose “i” might be a semicolon or long-ago failure to make a lasting self.  O’Brien is fascinated with the hesitations and swerves that are part of the process of human expression, and the delicate music and syntax she generates in the act of saying constitute an original and exquisite study of how we move, imperfectly and with hope, towards closure and form.” —Nancy Eimers

“These startling poems by Colleen O’Brien zigzag intuitively from the given lyric to the more experimental, and how refreshing for a reader to be drawn across that prism rather than encamped in aesthetics, as there is a kindly laying down of arms here, so that when lyric and language are turned inside out it is in the service of a painstaking listening, and when the forms themselves fix the circumstances of the heart, there is still every breath, honed to hold.” —William Olsen

“In Colleen O’Brien’s debut collection, words are electrical fields within which worlds are in constant motion. With the wit and formal dexterity of the Elizabethan poets, O’Brien playfully sublimates Plato’s myth of the Three Fates, Molly Bloom’s soliloquy, Matisse’s Bathers by a River, Shakespeare’s “All the world’s a stage,” and other Western cultural markers into interrogations of inherited cultural assumptions. What’s at stake is no less than how to live in a reeling universe where science is god and “Truth is a word / in the mouth / and a spool in the maze / in the myth”—but what fun O’Brien has mapping her territory, and what pleasure I had tracking her every step.” —Lee Sharkey

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