Michael D. O’Brien’s new book: The Fool of New York City

Speaking of Michael D. O’Brien, I just finished reading his newest offering…

The Fool of New York City


This could be a good Christmas gift.

No, you tender lib snowflakes out there.  It’s not about Donald Trump.

It is quite touching.  I don’t like spoilers, so I won’t say much about it.  What I can say is that it is about identity and rediscovery.  There is a wounded soul and an unlikely redemptive figure.  It has all the usual poetry and mystic touches for which O’Brien’s books are known.

Another great thing about this new book: It’s only 280 pages long!  For O’Brien that’s like a haiku.  Many of his books could serve as cornerstones of buildings.  Did he listen to his editor?  Is he experimenting with the genre of (Relatively) Short Story?  Whatever the reason, he moves along at a good pace in this one.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in The Campus Telephone Pole and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Adaquano says:

    Thanks for posting this Fr! I heard him on the radio over the summer discussing this with the host and I believe Msgr. Pope but couldn’t recall the title or author’s name. I’ll be sure to check it out.

  2. Scott W. says:

    For O’Brien that’s like a haiku.

    Ain’t that the truth! He’s great, but you risk pulling a muscle hauling around one his tomes.

    [Ah ha! This is a great opportunity to suggest that you get a KINDLE! HERE]

  3. wmeyer says:

    I have not read it yet. What has stopped me so far is its short length. One of the things I like about Father Elijah and several of his others is that they are long enough to be really immersive reads. I’ve never really liked haiku. ;)

  4. Supertradmum says:

    This looks like a really good one….and Mr. O’Brien seems like a very nice person as well. My second book came out today and may be found on Amazon, both the US site and the UK site.

    Of course, I am far from having the talent of Mr. O’Brien. But, some may like this new book.

    An example of the book is found here and it is on Kindle as well. HERE

  5. acbprop says:

    Just finished Elijah in Jerusalem and I felt like it was too short, wanted more (sort of sneaks up on you reading Kindle–you don’t feel how many pages are left). So maybe O’Brien’s style lends itself to long, long, long. Will read this next, thanks for the heads up.

  6. un-ionized says:

    acbprop, O’Brien is a master of foreshadowing. His true Catholic masterpiece, A Cry of Stone, is full of foreshadowing.


  7. jaykay says:

    Must get it for Christmas. Thanks, Fr., for this reminder – I did know it was in the way but had forgotten. As to length, “Plague Journal” is also short – 284 pages – but I think it’s one of his best. That said, I do agree with wmeyer, in that I like loooong “immersive” books, probably a feature of my loooong weekly commuting, and Mr. O’B does tend to fit the bill there!

    Thanks again, looking forward to it now.

  8. Xmenno says:

    Just finished this book, but may have to re-read it to catch the nuances.
    “un-ionized,” Cry of Stone is my favorite of all O’brien’s work. I read it every Lent to remind me of the strength of the small hidden souls whom God loves and cares for in the most subtle of ways.

  9. HyacinthClare says:

    I love O’Brien and will buy this book. Your comment reminded me of a negative review I read of a book by another writer-of-huge-volumes, James Michener. I think the book was Centennial, but it was a long time ago. The reviewer said he had two pieces of advice about the book. (1) Don’t read it and (2) don’t drop it on your foot. I laughed a long time.

  10. capchoirgirl says:

    acbprop, I felt the same way about Elijah in Jerusalem. I definitely wanted more! But some of his other books do tend to run on–I felt Strangers and Sojourners could’ve been better if it was shorter. It’s good, as it is, but it sort of drags toward the end.

  11. Blaine says:

    I might be an outlier, and while I like all his books, Votage to Alpha Centauri and Island of the World are my favorites, followed by Father Elijah. Reading The Fool of New York City now.

  12. Blaine says:

    *voyage. How did that miss autocorrect?

  13. MouseTemplar says:

    I am a great fan of his books. Father Elijah was instrumental in my return to the Church after 25 years’ absence.

  14. un-ionized says:

    Xmenno, A Cry of Stone is usually overlooked. It was his first novel and he attributes Saint Kateri’s help with writing it as you know from the author’s notes. It is by far his most Catholic book and he is at his very best when not in James Bond end of the world mode. I have read it 4 times and recommend it for people who want a book to savor.

    It is over 800 pages and is also by far the most complex of his books that I have read because of the extensive foreshadowing, the depth of characterization, and there simply is a lot to write about when one is describing a person’s entire life.

    There were a few unbelievable things, the biggest being, if Rose could read souls how did she not recognize her old teacher?

    And how DID that advertisement get in my post? ha ha.

  15. un-ionized says:

    Forgot: A Cry of Stone is about art, which is the author’s primary business, he writes to provide fuel for his graphic arts business.

  16. Henry Edwards says:

    wmeyer: Amen! 280 pages is indeed just a short story, not a genuine novel. I’m a Michael O’Brien devotee–all his recent books–but hesitate to lay down a novel’s price for a short story.

    [I was, of course, being jocular. This is a book, not a “short story”. I said “short story” because this one isn’t 800 pages.]

  17. Semper Gumby says:

    Haven’t read Fool of New York yet, and Plague Journal, seconding jaykay, is well worth the read.

    Another great O’Brien novel is The Father’s Tale. It clocks in at about 1100 pages (pack a lunch) and is an intriguing take on the Prodigal Son.

  18. un-ionized says:

    semper gumby, i loved the middle part of The Father’s Tale when the protagonist was visiting the village on the Little Little Ob. Loved the characterization of the two priests, the poustinia, and the story of Mary’s Well. Outstanding.

  19. Semper Gumby says:

    un-ionized: I’m away from my books but I think I recall those chapters. The sojourners by the Little Ob River were amidst a landscape made morally desolate by the Gulag and its aftermath. But in the midst of this desert there was a hidden spring found through patience and grace.

    The England chapters early in the book, which at first seemed to be an exercise in melancholy, revealed an entirely different desert with its own hidden spring.

  20. un-ionized says:

    Semper gumby, that book is also unusual in that there is some comic relief, such as the driver of the snow machine and the amazing ride. o’brien is much too serious sometimes and it drags you down. even the worst times have something in them to be amused about even if it our own drunkenness or lack of snow machine driving ability (though the man in the book was a good driver).

  21. Semper Gumby says:

    I agree, those light moments O’Brien works in are great.

  22. un-ionized says:

    And there is a similar scene in A Cry of Stone when the children proudly present the teacher with the remains of her wajish that they have, er, taken care of. Priceless. Or edible.

Comments are closed.