A Story That Happens

A Story That Happens

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By Dan O'Brien

ISBN: 9781628973839

Publication Date: 09/14/2021

Drawing on O’Brien’s experience of cancer and of childhood abuse, and on his ongoing collaboration with a war reporter, the four essays in A Story that Happens—first written as craft lectures for the Sewanee Writers’ Conference and the US Air Force Academy—offer hard-won insights into what stories are for and the reasons why, "afraid and hopeful," we begin to tell them.

Other Books by Dan O'Brien


Praise for Dan O’Brien’s A Story That Happens

“A master class in surviving through art.” – Margaret Gray, The Los Angeles Times

“Powerful . . . This is a book for our times.” – Alice Jolly, Times Literary Supplement

"Subtly weaving between sometimes harrowing personal reminiscences and perceptive and astute lessons on the art of dramatic writing, the book is a quiet revelation.” ―Caridad Svich, Contemporary Theatre Review 

 "All the essays were written during the tumultuous Trump years, a period of bombastic rage, where the truth was not only clouded but disrespected . . . O'Brien does an unforgettable job accompanying the reader through the prism of his life experiences, offering more than mere lessons." —Jonas Shwartz-Owen, Broadway World

Biographical Information

Dan O’Brien is a playwright, poet, librettist, and essayist whose recognition includes a Guggenheim Fellowship in Drama & Performance Art and the UK’s Fenton Aldeburgh Poetry Prize. True Story: A Trilogy of O’Brien’s plays was published by Dalkey Archive Press in 2023, and in 2021 his collection of essays, A Story That Happens: On Playwriting, Childhood, & Other Traumas, was published by Dalkey Archive in the US and by CB Editions in the UK. His poetry collections are Survivor’s Notebook, Our Cancers, New Life, Scarsdale, and War Reporter. His plays include The Body of an American, winner of the PEN USA Award, the Edward M. Kennedy Prize, and the Horton Foote Prize, and The House in Scarsdale, winner of a PEN America Award. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, the actor and writer Jessica St. Clair, and their daughter Isobel.