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3.33  ·  Rating details ·  60 ratings  ·  7 reviews

"John O'Brien was a stunningly talented writer who created poetry from the most squalid materials."—Jay McInerney, author of Bright Lights, Big City

Within the walls of a foreboding mansion situated in the hills overlooking Los Angeles, the suave Double Felix plays host to an array of beautiful women as well as his unlikely sidekick William. The mysterious patriarch g

Paperback, 250 pages
Published August 1st 2009 by Akashic Books
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Average rating 3.33  · 
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Jul 06, 2009 rated it liked it
"This is how it is in the universe. This is how the universe holds our attention. More importantly, this is how the universe keeps us from checking out, committing no-frills suicide: by keeping the attraction in the act, not the result. That is, we fuck for the fucking, not for the babies; they are merely a by-product of what we're really into--or so it would seem to us. We are not important. Our interests in babies is not important. The machine runs on stronger stuff, and what is revealed is on ...more
Jen Pennington
Nov 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Poetry from squalor - I have never read anyone like John O'Brien and I don't know if there ever will be someone whose style and subjects and characters converge on the reader the way they do. Never a disappointing read. ...more
William Retherford
Jan 28, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-read-2021
A pretty good read that ended with many unanswered questions. I can’t help but wonder if John O’Brien has more planned for this book.
Oct 22, 2011 rated it liked it

This rather slim novel is by the author of LEAVING LAS VEGAS, and chronicles the lives of various inhabitants who live in a lavish 'crash pad' high in the Hollywood hills. Double Felix (his name is Felix, but this is his rather clever nickname)owns the home, and oversees a non-stop alcohol fueled party, and he sometimes invites people to stay and live at the house. The novel is mostly told by William who was a high-profile, severely alcoholic corporate lawyer who came to party, and never left. A
Jonathan Sturak
Feb 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
John O'Brien always gives us a privileged view into the depths of his characters, their secrets, their hidden agendas, their romantic thoughts, which are for our eyes only. And he slows down scenes, making it all about the moment. "Better" is a strange book in that it takes place solely inside the confines of a mansion overlooking the California coast. This is where we meet William, a permanent house guest of the Lord of the Manor, Double Felix. Their interactions are a play on language, a liter ...more
Mar 12, 2016 rated it did not like it
Nope. Didn't like this. It was very difficult to read. Made little sense. I had a super hard time getting into it and never really did get into it. Boring and found myself skimming which lead to more confusion, yet I didn't even care to try and figure out what I missed. ...more
Nov 16, 2010 rated it really liked it
This was not an easy book to read...and it is not for most tastes...would mainly be of interest to people who saw "Leaving Las Vegas" and didn't turn it off or look away. ...more
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John O'Brien's first novel Leaving Las Vegas was published in 1990 and made into a film of the same name in 1995.

His other three works were published posthumously.


John O'Brien was born in 1960 and grew up in Cleveland, Ohio. He moved to Los Angeles in 1982 with his then-wife Lisa. During his lifetime, he was a busboy, file clerk, and coffee roaster, but writing was his true calling. He com

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