The Perch

A lot of you share my interest in homelessness, addiction, and recovery, so I thought you may be interested in the latest issue of The Perch, the Yale School of Medicine-affiliated arts journal with a focus on mental health. Titled Substance, the issue (volume 7) features poems, fiction, creative nonfiction, scholarly works, and art that present diverse perspectives on substance use and the recovery process.

I’m proud to have contributed a vignette to this smart and handsome collection. “Coming Clean” is about a homeless, drug-addicted prostitute who hits rock bottom at a seedy, downtown Las Vegas motel; it can be found on page 82 in the “During” section. (The issue is divided into the three main parts of the addiction process: Before, During, and After.)

If you have time today or this weekend, download the Substance PDF and take it for a spin. There is something in it for everyone with an interest in the topic.

https://medicine.yale.edu/psychiatry/prch/news/the_perch/

Strong first quarter

O’Brien Editing Services had a strong first quarter of the year. Turns out that people of all ages do want fast, informed, affordable feedback and guidance from a living, breathing human being.

Thanks again for trusting me with your work and for the referrals, testimonials, likes, comments, etc.! Saludos desde San Salvador! (Regards from San Salvador!)

‘Cleopatra Wash’

This short story, “Cleopatra Wash,” is about a down-on-his-luck man who gets lost while hiking outside of Las Vegas. He encounters a drunk, homeless mountain man, who helps him find his way back to the main road and, to a certain extent, his way in life.

I leaned on my UNLV connects for feedback on this story: James Joseph Brown (MFA creative writing), Raluca Comanelea (MA literary studies), and Richard Wiley (author and professor emeritus). Special thanks to James for repeated reads and feedback! And shout-out to Devoid Magazine Editor-in-Chief Victoria Koelkebeck for accepting the story and presenting it professionally.

This one is personal, y’all. It’s based on an ill-fated hike I did many years ago, when I was feeling a certain way about a certain relationship. When time permits, I hope you’ll take it for a spin.

https://devoidmagazine.org/short-stories/cleopatra-wash

‘Coming To’

Another one of my Vegas stories has been published. “Coming To” is about a down-on-his-luck, longtime Las Vegas resident who finds some salvation at a strip-mall church.

Thanks to Krista Diamond and Brian Rouff for their feedback on the story, and to Argyle Founder and Editor-in-Chief David Estringel for accepting it!

https://www.theargylelitmag.com/fiction/coming-to

The Lost Xplorers podcast

I have long admired Kris Saknussemm’s bibliography, heavily stamped passport, and bold cultural commentary (though I’m sure we do not agree on everything), so I was honored to be a guest on the podcast he co-hosts with J. David Osborne. The three of us chatted for a little more than an hour, touching on topics ranging from the expat life to finding love through a language barrier to my earliest memory.

Check it out, if you have time. Here is a rough guide of some of the topics and their time marks: expat life (5:30-17:30); finding love through a language barrier (17:30-25:40); homelessness in the US and the underground flood channels of Las Vegas (25:40-32); contrasting Las Vegas and San Salvador (32-37); earliest memories (44:10-50:30); and a lightning round (1:01-1:10).

And please subscribe to their podcast, Lost Xplorers, if it catches your interest.

https://lostxplorers.podbean.com/e/189-beneath-the-neon-w-matthew-obrien/?fbclid=IwAR38K9UUyLm1TThVFFMdWgjbMGPL2L2PnM_dcPlBVU2WeqxwRu7fqcx4S0s

Going back to Carrollton?

Since leaving my last class at West Georgia College in the spring of 1995, I have not set foot on campus or anywhere near the city of Carrollton. (I did not attend graduation.) It looks like that will be changing soon.

I have tentatively agreed to give a talk or presentation and a book-signing at my alma mater, now the University of West Georgia, early next year. It will, most likely, be a “From Carrollton to Central America”-type look at my writing career, of course hitting heavily on the Vegas years. (My interest in research and writing can be traced to West Georgia’s feisty, little history department.)

I will, of course, keep you all updated on the event as details become available. I’m already looking forward to it!

PS- The attached article, published in 2020 on the UWG website, hits on some of the key points that may come up in the conversation.

https://www.westga.edu/news/alumni-and-friends/alum-pens-best-seller.php

Descansa en paz!

That feeling when you finish a book that you didn’t want to end, it seems like the author is a dear friend, and then you discover that he passed away a few months ago.

“It got dark in there. That’s how thick the wave was and how deep within it I found myself,” writes surfer Allan Weisbecker in his memoir In Search of Captain Zero. “I was in a crouch, which is pretty much instinctive in that sort of situation, but I could have stood up and still not gotten my hair wet. For the three, maybe four seconds before that wave spit me back out into sunlight with my feet still firmly planted on my board, I was exactly and without doubt where I wanted to be on the surface of planet earth. And there was not a drop of water in my universe that was out of place.”

I hope you’ve found that perfect wave, my friend! Descansa en paz!

Muchas gracias!

As some of you know, I put my creative writing aside last year to focus on my editing service. The seeds I planted then are beginning to bloom. O’Brien Editing Services has been incredibly busy the first two months of 2024.

You all have played a part in that. The number of referrals OES has received—some from people I have not even worked with directly—has been overwhelming. Muchas gracias!

OK. That’s all for now. Back to work!

The Arrival

One of my Vegas vignettes, “The Arrival,” is currently live on Twenty-two Twenty-eight’s website.

It’s a color piece that I could see serving as an intro of sorts to a collection of stories from the streets of Las Vegas, but I’m happy that the editors of the journal feel it stands well on its own.

Take it for a spin—it’s only 500 or so words long—and let me know what you think.

https://www.twentytwotwentyeight.com/single-post/fiction-the-arrival-by-matthew-o-brien

A strong start

The year is off to a strong start. I’ve been reconnecting with clients of my editing service and connecting with new and interesting clients. Another one of my stories from the streets of Las Vegas was accepted for publication (by a magazine that pays)—thanks to Ed Komenda and Veronica Klash for their feedback on this piece!—and I’ve started on the next story in the collection. And I booked a trip to Vegas (my first in two years) for later this month.

Let’s hope that this wave keeps rolling.

#2024 #OBrienEditingServices #OES #LasVegas