Wisdom in Nonsense

Invaluable Lessons from My Father


Wisdom in Nonsense

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).

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Front cover 1
Title page 4
Copyright page 5
Contents 6
Foreword | Marie Carrière 8
Liminaire | Marie Carrière 12
Introduction | Kit Dobson 16
Prelude 22
Lesson 1 | Never Keep a Diary 24
Lesson 2 | Learn to Play the Tuba 26
Lesson 3 | Never Share Your Scientific Research 28
Lesson 4 | Make Friends with Jewish Kids 30
Lesson 5 | Accept That You’re Ugly and Move On 32
Lesson 6 | Never Tell Anyone What Your Parents Do for a Living 34
Lesson 7 | Know About Art History 36
Lesson 8 | Crime Does Pay 38
Lesson 9 | Enjoy a Fondue Dinnerwe 40
Lesson 10 | Respect Old Timers 44
Lesson 11 | It’s the Thought That Counts 48
Lesson 12 | Never Watch a Paul Newman Movie 52
Lesson 13 | Beware of Clowns 56
Coda | Sometimes There Is Nothing to Be Learned 60
Advice From Your Own Father 62
About the Author 66
CLC Kreisel Lecture Series 67