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).
About the authors
HEATHER O’NEILL is a novelist, short-story writer and essayist. Her most recent novel, When We Lost Our Heads was a #1 national bestseller and was a finalist for the Grand Prix du Livre de Montréal. Her previous works include The Lonely Hearts Hotel, which won the Paragraphe Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction and was longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction and CBC’s Canada Reads, as well as Lullabies for Little Criminals, The Girl Who Was Saturday Night and Daydreams Of Angels, which were shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction, the Orange Prize for Fiction and the Scotiabank Giller Prize two years in a row. She has won CBC’s Canada Reads and the Danuta Gleed Award. Born and raised in Montreal, O’Neill lives there today.
Kit Dobson lives and works in Calgary / Treaty 7 territory in southern Alberta. His previous books include Malled: Deciphering Shopping in Canada and he is a professor in the Department of English at the University of Calgary. He grew up in many places across Canada, but returned again and again to the landscapes of northern Alberta where his family members settled – and that continue to animate his thinking.
- Short-listed, Cover Design of the Year | Alberta Book Publishing Awards, Book Publishers Association of Alberta
"[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."
"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]
# 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.
"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]
"Bestselling novelist Heather O’Neill’s book is a slim, funny and moving account of childhood and her experience of being raised by a colourful—and criminal—father. In this tender volume, O’Neill shares the life lessons she learned from her father and his eccentric friends."
Matthew Stepanic & Jason Purcell
Other titles by Heather O'Neill
When We Lost Our Heads
Life in the Court of Matane
Second edition. With a foreword by Heather O'Neill
Lonely Hearts Hotel
Writers on Writing in Canada
The Lonely Hearts Hotel
Lullabies for Little Criminals
The Girl Who Was Saturday Night
Daydreams Of Angels
The Great Unexpected
The Journey Prize Stories 20
The Best of Canada's New Writers
Other titles by Kit Dobson
We are Already Ghosts
Field Notes on Listening
All the Feels / Tous les sens
Affect and Writing in Canada / Affect et écriture au Canada
Undoing Discipline in the Humanities Classroom
Deciphering Shopping in Canada
Producing Canadian Literature
Authors Speak on the Literary Marketplace
Transnationalism, Activism, Art
Please, No More Poetry
The Poetry of derek beaulieu
Anglo-Canadian Literature and Globalization