Whatever happened to Jack O’Connell?


Word Made Flesh left serious marks on my psyche back in ’99. And, apparently, that was the last anyone saw of him, other than an interview at Disinformation in 2001 and an anthology he edited in 2002 (Dark Alleys of Noir). The interview at Fantastic Metropolis, though dated 2004, feels like it could have easily been conducted shortly after Word Made Flesh came out and doesn’t give any indication that Jack is doing any writing.

Why? Oh, why? Here’s a sample from a randomly selected page of Word Made Flesh so you understand my pain.

Alice found the words to tell the story of the Erasure.

Now understand, and this may be the most important thing I have to tell you, Gilrein, she did not write down the facts. She did not transcribe what she saw through the window of the library. She did not relate, in words, the evetns that took place in Schiller Avenue on that humid night in July. She did not make a diary nor a journal. She did not engage in reportage. She wrote, instead, what we might agree to call a fiction. She told a story. Created a myth. She transformed what she had seen in the same way that she had been transformed by what she had seen. If I had anyone else to rely on, I would. But I have only you–this New World/New Testament reflection of my own self-loathing. You MUST understand this, Gilrein. What the girl wrote was something so far beyond accounting. Beyond simple journalism. She made her witnessing into a horrible art. She made a weapon of her epiphany and her transmutation. She created an evolutionary virus out of ink and paper. She put air into a trumpet that could shatter each frozen soul to hear its agonizing music.

I do not mean to be poetic. Poetry is the last thing I mean to give you. I do not want you to look for multiple layers of meaning.

I’m lying, Gilrein. Of course I want you to search between the lines. Of course I do. No act of transcription is innocent.

You see?

Jack, where are you? I mean, I don’ t mind having to pick up the slack in the hyper-noir genre, but I’m lazy and I’d rather be reading than writing.

[The other book, back in the day, that left a solid bruise on me was John Burdett’s Bangkok 8, and I see that he’s got a new one out now. Bangkok Tattoo, the second book, I didn’t find as deliriously noir as Bangkok 8. Still, without a way to visit O’Connell’s Q-town, I guess I’ll just have to take another trip to Thailand with Sonchai Jitpleecheep.]