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John O'Brien (novelist)

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John O'Brien
John in 1993
Born(1960-05-21)May 21, 1960
DiedApril 10, 1994(1994-04-10) (aged 33)
Other namesCarroll Mine
Years active1990–1994
Notable workLeaving Las Vegas
Lisa Kirkwood
(m. 1979)

John O'Brien (May 21, 1960 – April 10, 1994) was an American author. His first novel, Leaving Las Vegas, was published in 1990 by Watermark Press and made into a film of the same name in 1995.

Life and career


O'Brien was born in Oxford, Ohio, where his parents, Bill and Judy O'Brien, were both students at Miami University.[1] He was the brother of writer Erin O'Brien. John grew up in Brecksville and Lakewood, Ohio, and graduated from Lakewood High School in 1978.[2][3] He married Lisa Kirkwood in 1979, and the couple moved to Los Angeles, California, in 1982. They divorced in 1992, at his initiative.[4][5] His first novel, Leaving Las Vegas, is dedicated to her.[6]

Through a friend of his ex-wife, O'Brien got a gig writing Episode 37 of the animated series Rugrats, "Toys in the Attic", which premiered in 1992 under his only known pseudonym, Carroll Mine. According to his sister, Erin, he was disgusted with editorial changes made to his script.[7]



O'Brien died from suicide (self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head) at his Beverly Hills apartment on April 10, 1994,[8] two weeks after learning that his novel, Leaving Las Vegas, was to be adapted into a film. His father says that the novel was his suicide note. Two more of his novels were published posthumously: Stripper Lessons (Grove Press, 1997) and The Assault on Tony's (Grove Press, 1996), both of which had been left unfinished at the time of his death and were completed by his sister, Erin.[7] A third manuscript, Better, was published by Akashic Press in 2009.


  • O'Brien, John (1990). Leaving Las Vegas. Wichita, Kansas: Watermark Press. ISBN 978-0-922820-12-2. OCLC 22766437. Retrieved February 17, 2016.
  • O'Brien, John (1996). The Assault on Tony's. New York: Grove Press. ISBN 978-0-8021-1592-8. OCLC 34149431. Retrieved February 17, 2016.
  • O'Brien, John (1997). Stripper Lessons. New York: Grove Press. ISBN 978-0-8021-3507-0. OCLC 35593676. Retrieved February 17, 2016.
  • O'Brien, John (2008). "The Tik". In Keene, Jarret; Pierce, Todd James (eds.). Las Vegas noir. Brooklyn, New York: Akashic Books. ISBN 978-1933354491. OCLC 182529221. Retrieved February 17, 2016.
  • O'Brien, John (2009). Better: a novel. Brooklyn, New York: Akashic Books. ISBN 978-1933354828. OCLC 373484234. Retrieved February 17, 2016.


  1. ^ O'brien, Erin (February 13, 2010). "Erin O'Brien: Chewy Fudge Brownies".
  2. ^ "Lakewood High School Lakewood, OH alumni - Last Names starting with O". lakewoodhighschoolalumni.com.
  3. ^ "Class of 1978 (Lakewood High School)". secureserver.classquest.com.
  4. ^ https://erin-obrien.blogspot.com/2006/12/interview.html
  5. ^ https://ew.com/article/1995/11/10/john-obriens-bittersweet-departure/
  6. ^ O'Brien, John (1990). Leaving Las Vegas (1st ed.). Wichita, Kan.: Watermark Press. ISBN 0-922820-12-0. OCLC 22766437.
  7. ^ a b "Erin O'Brien interview November 28, 2005". QRD No. 29. Silbermedia. November 28, 2005. Retrieved March 12, 2011.
  8. ^ Parker, Don (September 16, 2016). "Is Suicide Painless? Leaving Las Vegas, Suicide, and the Tragic End to Life". Medium.