By Dan O'Brien
Publication Date: 10/31/2023
From Scarsdale is an evocative and lyrical memoir of a haunted childhood in Scarsdale, New York.
With a life-threatening diagnosis in his early forties, the author is compelled to revisit and resolve the mystery of his family’s sadness. The fourth of six children in an Irish American household distinctly out-of-place in an affluent suburb of New York City, O’Brien grows up in a claustrophobic milieu of secrecy, lies, and mental illness. The turning point in his maturation is an older brother’s attempted suicide—an event he witnesses firsthand.
From Scarsdale traces with sensitivity the complex histories and dynamics that lead to this trauma, as O’Brien investigates the psychologies of his parents, themselves the survivors of painful childhoods in Scarsdale. Then, simultaneously disturbed and catalyzed by his brother’s depression, and his own developing obsessive-compulsive disorder, the adolescent O’Brien discovers literature and the theatre as an escape, though it will take years for an actual liberation to occur. In many ways this memoir is that liberation, as his ambition here has been to tell “the story of who I am and where I’m from, with honesty, insight, and something like forgiveness. To try to leave the old place behind.”
Praise for A Story That Happens
“A masterclass in surviving through art.” — Margaret Gray, Los Angeles Times
“Powerful . . . . This is a book for our times.” ― Alice Jolly, Times Literary Supplement
"A quiet revelation.” ― Caridad Svich, Contemporary Theatre Review
Praise for War Reporter
“A masterpiece of truthfulness and feeling, and a completely sui generis addition not just to writing about war but to contemporary poetry” ― Patrick McGuinness, The Guardian
Dan O’Brien is a playwright, poet, and nonfiction writer. His recognition includes a Guggenheim Fellowship for Drama, two PEN America Awards for Playwriting, and the UK’s Fenton Aldeburgh Poetry Prize. He lives in Los Angeles.