I was that kid from a decent yet dysfunctional nuclear family: father a professor, mom a social worker, three children, and nobody communicated. We traveled the world, living abroad. I was always the new kid on the playground, the one that looked different and didn’t speak the language. Finally the wheels fell off and my parents separated.
Along the way a sense of alienation and not belonging became part of my psyche, which readily parlayed into an easy admittance to art school. Four years later I emerged with a budding heroin habit and what looked like a promising career in the music industry.
A quick segue ahead (eighteen years) and believe it or not my life was out of control as a result of said heroin habit. I’d gone from a contributing card carrying member in high standing of San Francisco’s punk rock movement to so strung out I couldn’t even hold down a menial labor job. My girlfriend (who I call Jenny to protect her identity) and I had ended up homeless. In an attempt to save me, my mother rented us an apartment in her upscale Marina district neighborhood. A neighborhood, with the help of my friend Sal (another pseudonym), I begin systematically robbing.
As my life became a whirlwind of shooting drugs, scoring drugs, armed robberies, overdoses, and friends dying, I dove deeper into depression and instability. Lost in a world from which I really saw no way out, I envisioned my future and its inevitable possible conclusions; arrest, incarceration, death. Even weekly sessions with a therapist didn’t seem to help as my already chaotic life fell further and further apart.
“There’s genuine grief at the loss of a number of friends and running companions, but no self-pity, and no happy ending, either; the only indication in Hold-Up of O’Neil’s eventual sobriety is the fact that he lived to write the thing down, and beautifully at that. And for that we can only be grateful.” ––Scott Phillips, author of The Ice Harvest
My memoir basically centers on the last year and a half before it all came to a crashing end. No longer an artist, or even a member of society, my addiction had escalated into the proverbial “monkey on my back,” the cost so dauntingly immense it changed me into a gun-toting street thug. Only I still had a conscience and was plagued with guilt and remorse. Tortured and feeling responsible for my much younger girlfriend, I turned to armed robbery to support our habits. But inside I knew it was going to end, and badly. I just couldn’t stop, I didn’t know how.
“There aren’t many books that when you finish them leave you silent and unable to reenter the world for a while—and Patrick O’Neil’s Hold-Up is one of them.” ––Rob Roberge, author of The Cost of Living, and Working Backwards From the Worst Moment Of My Life
Hold-Up is my story, a story I felt needed to be told. I don’t glamorize or romanticize, just tell it as I remember, the dark noir of my former life. And maybe that’s why I’m big in France. Actually, I have to wait and see if that statement becomes true. Hold-Up is out March 20th 2013, and like most first time published authors I’m anxiously awaiting the date. Only my book isn’t being released in the United States, or even in English. My publisher, 13e Note Edition is in Paris, France. My memoir will be in a language I do not speak, and cannot read. However, if you feel so inclined, lisez les Français, just want a beautifully designed book, or support great French indie presses – Hold-Up (ISBN-13: 978-2363740304) will be available wherever fine French literature is sold.
Of course I’m still looking for a press here in America. My memoir, like my childhood, had to go to Europe before coming home.