Articles by Mark O'Connell

November 7, 2012

Double Take: A Momentary Encounter With a Murderer and his Fictional Likeness 1

One evening a couple of weeks ago, I passed a murderer in the front square of Trinity College Dublin. It was Malcolm MacArthur, a man in his late sixties who spent the last thirty years in prison for killing two strangers in July of 1982. He is arguably the most notorious murderer in Ireland’s notoriously murderous history.

August 22, 2012

A Martin Amis Hatchet Job? On Lionel Asbo: State of England 5

The Martin Amis Hatchet Job is, at this point, a sort of minor literary genre in its own right. As a rule, the reviewer will mention at least one (but preferably many more) of the following list of topics: misogyny; Islamophobia; dentistry; patrician contempt for the working classes; sonship of Kingsley; mentorship of Bellow; friendship of Hitchens; enmity of Barnes and/or Eagleton; earliness of success; velvetness of trousers.

April 19, 2012

On Point: David Rees, The Proust of Pencil Sharpeners 14

I’m surprised to hear that you communists overseas are using your own individual sharpeners in classrooms. It’s a very Ayn-Randian position to take. “I’ve got my pencil sharpener, fuck you if you can’t afford a pencil sharpener! Sharpen your pencil with your bootstrap!”

March 27, 2012

Cool Story, Bro: The Provocations of John D’Agata 9

To say The Lifespan of a Fact is mostly boring is a bit like saying that a Molotov cocktail is mostly boring because it’s just a bottle of petrol with an old rag stuffed into it.

March 15, 2012

Everything I Write is True, But So What?: Edouard Levé’s Autoportrait 4

If you’re looking for a way to ruin a perfectly good first date, do the following: lean forward in your chair and, gazing urgently across the dinner table into the eyes of the near-perfect stranger sitting opposite, ask them to tell you something true about themselves.

February 16, 2012

The Arcades Project: Martin Amis’ Guide to Classic Video Games 76

Invasion of the Space Invaders is the madwoman in the attic of Amis’ house of nonfiction; many have heard rumors of its shameful presence, but few have seen it with their own eyes.

December 16, 2011

Remembering Hitch 4

It took a particularly potent kind of charisma to allow a person to engage in such concentrated namedropping, urinating all the while, and still manage to come across as utterly charming. Hitchens had that kind of charisma.

December 11, 2011

A Year in Reading: Mark O’Connell 7

His compassion and clarity are such that I often found myself thinking that if God existed and had sat down to write a novel, this is what it would look like.

November 30, 2011

The Saddest Story I Have Ever Heard: An Agnostic Appreciation of The Book of Genesis 6

When I think of poor Adam and Eve and their hapless abdication of paradise in return for some new knowledge, I can’t help thinking of my own incremental sense of impending banishment with each new rumor overheard, as a child, from across the border of Adulthood.

November 17, 2011

The Truth About ‘The Truth About Marie’ 0

There’s a lesson in this that might be too awful for us to want to learn, which is that death takes from us not just our lives, but also our right to insist upon a particular version of those lives.