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O'Brien's craftsmanship is brilliant. His writing is experimental without overkill. If you read this with the expectation of it being a steamy romance novel, though, you'll be deeply disappointed.
This book speaks more to themes of agency than anything else. For anyone who is interested, I say go ahead and pick it up, but understand that this is an emotionally heavy read.
Apr 11, Troy Jensen rated it it was amazing Shelves: Amazed that I had never bothered to look into who wrote the story behind the film that stands in my mind as one of the most brutal yet moving and beautiful movies I've come across, I decided out of the clear blue a few nights ago to do some research.
It didn't take long of course to find out this story behind the story behind the film was anything close to anything that resembles "typical" in that world.
Indeed, the real life story of author John O'Brien was more heartbreaking than his character Amazed that I had never bothered to look into who wrote the story behind the film that stands in my mind as one of the most brutal yet moving and beautiful movies I've come across, I decided out of the clear blue a few nights ago to do some research.
I'll let readers do their own background research on the author's incredibly sad demise that parallels Leaving Las Vegas so closely I actually winced when I quickly learned John O'Brien, a very serious alcoholic himself, shot himself in the head with a handgun two weeks after learning his book was to become a movie, starring Nicolas Cage and Elisabeth Shue.
His agent found him after he had been missing for several days at one of the infamously seedy motels around Downtown Los Angeles' "Skid Row" section I'm from LA, and as a once Wild Child can attest to Skid Row's reputation - for once the words escape me, it's a surreal hell.
He was dead on his bed, surrounded by dozens of bottles of vodka. Leaving Las Vegas the novel is described as a "semi-autobiographical novel" and O'Brien's father has been quoted as saying "Leaving Las Vegas was his suicide note.
I don't want to leave any spoilers - all I can say is this genius, a timeless work of art. It has its faults. Several totally unneeded long passages about one of the character's actions Sera walking into a casino comes immediately to mind display the raw and unwieldy nature that is part and parcel of most first novels.
One character, a meaningless sideshow protagonist, should have been left out entirely, the whole story and the character himself are just terrible cliches.
It was forced, you can feel it, because luckily that short subplot is short and somehow doesn't intrude on the pure magic of this novel - the story of the two main characters, Ben and Sera.
It isn't a long read. I understand in published format I understand the book is pages I use Apple's iBooks for reading books today.
I'm an extremely fast reader, but even that said I devoured this book like just a handful of others - done in less than three hours, and it never left my hands even for bathroom breaks.
It's the life O'Brien brings to these two characters, and the arch of the main plot that forced me to actually quicken the pace of my reading it isn't structured with a quickening pace per say - again it's this undefinable magic of these two characters, and the imminent conclusion that is plainly in near site, that forces one to want to read faster, flip pages, to be irritated by any interruption that removes you from the author's suspended reality he created and I found myself in.
Now that I've read the novel and seen the absolutely brilliant film, the inevitable question "Which is better?
This is one of those incredibly rare events where both belong in "Best Ever" lists. The screenwriter took raw, unrefined but powerful magic, and smoothened it out - but just a enough and no more.
They both are just devastating, heartbreaking, brilliant works of artist magic. After the hour or so it takes to be able to focus again once I completed it today, I will say that the media is wrong - this wasn't a suicide note.
It was a "Suicide Fantasy" if that makes any sense. When you read the ending and then compare it to the author's ending, both were incredibly painful to read.
O'Brien did not die like his character Ben does, nor were his last few weeks on earth like Ben's. The author's was his reality.
Five out of Five Stars. But somehow the few portions of raw or cliche writing actually augment the story.
Language and descriptive passages may be tough for some readers. And there is no messages here - this is far from an intentional cautionary tale.
But honestly this is a book I'd recommend to anyone - a must read. Apr 26, Tom rated it it was amazing. I'd been waiting to read this for so long and it was so hard to source a copy of it online but I finally managed to get a copy imported from the US.
This is in my top 10 favourite films ever and I was scared that it wouldn't level with the film, I was happily proven wrong. There are many differences between both mediums of film and novel such as they don't correlate with each other chronologically.
The film starts slow and turns grim towards its ending, however the book is harrowing from the get I'd been waiting to read this for so long and it was so hard to source a copy of it online but I finally managed to get a copy imported from the US.
The film starts slow and turns grim towards its ending, however the book is harrowing from the get go and doesn't stop relenting it's clockwork of unimaginable hysteria throughout.
There are many scenes that were cut from the film that are present in the book which are fascinatingly vile, but I do understand why they weren't inducted into the feature.
The only guttering thing was Nick doesn't say my favourite two quotes: This creation has helped me come to terms with a lot of changes that have occurred in my life in the last couple of years, and has always helped when I've been at my most existentially fragile.
The craziest part is this was mostly autobiographical as the author killed himself a few years after releasing the book.
A top ten film and now a top ten book for me. Mar 09, Derek rated it really liked it. John O'Brien's small novel has been unfairly forgotten in the shadow of its more famous movie relative.
This is a shame because O'Brien is an interesting literary hybrid: He's got the soul of Bukowski with Fitzgerald's flair for lyrical prose.
I can't think of a lovelier or more heart-wrenching book that I've come across recently. The novel is both unflinching and unrelenting. Redemption isn't sought after by any of the main characters; in truth, it isn't even on the agenda.
The three central cha John O'Brien's small novel has been unfairly forgotten in the shadow of its more famous movie relative. The three central characters are all facing some sort of personal Armageddon but none of them are truly trying to escape it.
Knowing what plagued O'Brien and how it eventually overtook him, the novel can be hardgoing at times. He was no tourist and the pain depicted feels vitally real and hard-earned.
But that makes the moments of beauty that occur throughout the book, and they are definitely there, genuine and true too.
It's those moments, amidst all the ugly sadness, that give Leaving Las Vegas its power. Jun 05, Diego Flores rated it it was amazing. Reading on an early train to work one morning, this book made me feel physically sick though I had not drank the night before and was feeling fine on the walk to the station.
That isn't a criticism, but rather praise for how strongly the writing impresses upon you Ben's condition. With a lesser writer, Ben who I could only picture as Nicholas Cage despite having never seen the movie might have been too sympathetic or too unlikable.
Instead what we get is an honest picture lacking in pretension Reading on an early train to work one morning, this book made me feel physically sick though I had not drank the night before and was feeling fine on the walk to the station.
Instead what we get is an honest picture lacking in pretension. Along with the visceral descriptions of Ben's debilitating alcoholism, I found O'Brien's prose really enjoyable.
Nov 10, Linda Isakson rated it really liked it Shelves: This is an interesting and compelling story which explores the depths of prostitution and alcoholism.
Sera is a former Hollywood prostitute who fled to Las Vegas to escape her abusive pimp, Yuri. Ben, a once married and successful man, is now chronic alcoholic bent on drinking himself to death.
Both Sera and Ben meet in Vegas and, in a sense, fall in love or at the very least simply enjoy each others company. But, before Sera can convince Ben to give up his notion of suicide by bottle, Ben dies.
A sad but still touching portrayal of the misery both characters endure so that one can live free and the other can escape his reality.
Jan 13, Dalleer rated it really liked it. The love story in this book is naturally very unique in its' portrayal.
I would definitely see that this is a very fitting storyline for the modern era, where all that Cinderella meets prince charming stuff has been thrown out of the window a long time ago and has become undoubtedly outdated.
So you know, the alternate tale of love portrayed in this book is simply amazing because it is so unique and has not been that much explored in literature, I believe.
It is truly a sad story, and you kinda d The love story in this book is naturally very unique in its' portrayal. It is truly a sad story, and you kinda do realize sooner than later what will happen to the main characters, but you've still got to follow it through till the gripping end.
I've come to believe that, unknowingly, this is a bit of an evil book, that it is not the gritty depiction of the perils of alcohol that it is usually considered.
The depiction of alcoholism, indeed, is the only thing that rings true in the book -- O'Brien has the details and pressures right, it seems like.
But this book was written as a celebration of alcoholism and death and the author was so sick he didn't even realize it. Find me a depiction of alcoholism in which an alcoho I've come to believe that, unknowingly, this is a bit of an evil book, that it is not the gritty depiction of the perils of alcohol that it is usually considered.
Find me a depiction of alcoholism in which an alcoholic death is more glorious and grand, an affirmation of one man's will, and all that jazz.
Leaving Las Vegas I found this book to be long winded, which is impressive considering it is only pages long. The sentences go on and on without saying anything.
Nothing actually happens in the book. The flashbacks are jarring and pointless. Reading this book made me feel like I had walked in halfway to a movie I had never seen before.
This is one of those extremely rare instances when I enjoyed the movie so much more than the book. I would not recommend this book to anyone.
Rent the movie in Leaving Las Vegas I found this book to be long winded, which is impressive considering it is only pages long. Rent the movie instead.
Sep 20, Jennifer rated it really liked it. Parts of it really seemed like a drunk fantasy. But the psychology of Sera otherwise -- her memories, her motives for working, and her self-preservation are pretty great.
View all 3 comments. Aug 29, Matt rated it it was amazing. A mild-mannered chemist and an ex-con must lead the counterstrike when a rogue group of military men, led by a renegade general, threaten a nerve gas attack from Alcatraz against San Francisco.
Because his wife left him and took his son with her, screenwriter Ben Sanderson has started drinking, a lot. He's getting more and more isolated and he troubles women in bars because he wants to have sex with them.
When he gets fired, he decides to leave everything behind and move to Las Vegas and drink himself to death. In Las Vegas he meets Sera, a prostitute with some problems as well who he moves in with.
I've seen this film 5 or 6 times. I believe author John O'Brien thought he was living through a hallucination in the final throes of his diseased life.
The possibility rises out of several conspicuous dynamics in the film. First, that Ben's life was invested developing Hollywood drama prior to being dismissed by his boss, who will clearly miss his talent and personality in the office, a talent singularly broken by the ravages of alcoholism.
He is good at inventing and developing "story". If his occupation had been Investment Banking or Teaching, I'd feel differently.
But John O'Brien bore him with a Hollywood mind. That lit the flame for me. That Ben repeatedly calls Sera his angel during his demise - as he enjoys the best of - and endures the worst of - Las Vegas living.
It is possible that all of it is a hallucination during the final pathetic act of his life. The invention of Sera makes his passing bearable, doable, a possible goal for him.
That Sera endures the college team horrors, discuses her relationship with the off-camera therapist to whom she confesses her soul-deep love for Ben In my last analysis, she is an angel divined in his fertile mind to embody all of the good people and events in his life the wealth flashback memories, e.
Sera has come to take him out while steeling the love in his heart. She sees him for what he is, because that's what responsible angels do.
This is a work with metaphor far beyond the veneer of the surface dialog. It's a film demanding to be viewed more than once. Or perhaps, I'm just going nuts, have lost it and I'm hallucinating in my own right.
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A version of " Lonely Teardrops " performed by Michael McDonald that features in the film is not included.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Not to be confused with Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. For other uses, see Leaving Las Vegas disambiguation.
Simpson Laurie Metcalf as Landlady. Library of Congress Manuscript Division. Retrieved 12 May This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
Retrieved 1 May Archived from the original on September 6, The Free Lance Star. Archived from the original on Films directed by Mike Figgis.
Independent Spirit Award for Best Film. Retrieved from " https: Articles that include text from Library of Congress finding aids All articles with dead external links Articles with dead external links from October Articles with permanently dead external links CS1 maint: Views Read Edit View history.
Best Actor — Motion Picture Drama. Best Actress in a Motion Picture — Drama. Best Motion Picture — Drama. Matt Dennis , Earl Brent.
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