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CLC Kreisel Lecture Series
Wisdom in Nonsense
Invaluable Lessons from My Father
By (author): Heather O'Neill Introduction by: Kit Dobson
9781772123777 Paperback, Trade English General Trade BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Literary Figures Jan 19, 2018 Print Run: 6000
$11.95 CAD
Active 5.5 x 8 x 0.16 in 64 pages The University of Alberta Press Canadian Literature Centre / Centre de littérature canadienne
 
Cover Design of the Year | Alberta Book Awards, Book Publishers Association of Alberta 2019, Short-listed
I broke all the rules that my dad gave me. It was he who had given me, in part, the confidence to think of my life as being worthy to mix with those of the geniuses. —Heather O’Neill With generosity and wry humour, novelist Heather O’Neill recalls several key lessons she learned in childhood from her father: memories and stories about how crime does pay, why one should never keep a diary, and that it is good to beware of clowns, among other things. Her father and his eccentric friends—ex-bank robbers and homeless men—taught her that everything she did was important, a belief that she has carried through her life. O’Neill’s intimate recollections make Wisdom in Nonsense the perfect companion to her widely praised debut novel, Lullabies for Little Criminals (HarperCollins).

Heather O’Neill is a novelist, short story writer, and essayist. Her work, which includes Lullabies for Little Criminals, The Girl Who Was Saturday Night, Daydreams of Angels, and The Lonely Hearts Hotel, has been shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award for Fiction, The Orange Prize for Fiction, and the Scotiabank Giller Prize, and has won CBC Canada Reads, The Paragraphe Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction, and the Danuta Gleed Literary Award. She lives in Montreal.

Kit Dobson is an Associate Professor of English at Mount Royal University. He teaches and publishes in the areas of Canadian literature, film, and globalization studies.

"[Heather O'Neill's] father shared hard-earned wisdom culled from early years as a petty criminal through to his work as a kind of philosopher-janitor. Unfortunately, his enthusiasm for dispensing life advice was in direct opposition to its practical application. But it certainly makes for good reading.... [This] collection, like all of her work, is filled with humour, moments of joy, sudden bursts of deep emotion and heartbreaking sincerity... The lesson in Wisdom in Nonsense is how a writer uses autobiography to inform fiction." - Michael Melgaard, National Post

# 7 on Edmonton Non-Fiction Bestsellers list, April 15, 2018

...a warm and funny collection of memories of O’Neill’s dad, a single parent. Look up Wisdom In Nonsense. Buy it. Give it to your own father. He will understand, and it will bring you closer. - Holly Doan, Blacklock's Reporter

"Wisdom in Nonsense offers up a selection of life lessons given to O’Neill as a child which come to act not as hard-and-fast rules but as guideposts to an occasionally odd-ball yet always sincere process of reflection on childhood, writing, and the father-daughter bond.... Reading about her connection with her father and the way in which they lived on the margins of society comes to illuminate O’Neill’s ability to depict the strange, perhaps even unexpected beauty of such bonds in her fiction." [Full review at http://www.prairiefire.ca/wisdom-in-nonsense-invaluable-lessons-from-my-father-by-heather-oneill] - Erin Della Mattia, Prairie Fire

"Heather O’Neill’s Wisdom in Nonsense...is in some ways strange. Strange because it reads less like a biography of the late Buddy O’Neill, which it is, and more like an absurd instruction manual for living. Stranger still is the wisdom shared; although Buddy’s advice is never categorically wrong, it is often preposterous and abstract. Despite the strangeness of it all, O’Neill generously translates her father’s eccentricities and antics into a reflection on how much and how little one can learn from a parent, and how that learning is complicated by class and circumstance.... O’Neill elicits belly laughs and makes space for the quiet sadness of loving parents who will always be complicated to learn from and to remember." Canadian Literature, October 9, 2018 [Full review at http://canlit.ca/article/something-to-be-learned] - Gabrielle Mills

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