The following are excerpts from "Frustrated Young Men: A Collection of Short Fiction" by John O'Brien: Sometimes he could feel his mind burning, ripe with ideas, each thought rolling around like slick mercury eating through the top of his skull. He would ride the train home from work and feel each precious thought smoking like raw egg fallen on a gas burner. As he closed the door to his apartment and hung his jacket, they would already be half gone like the afterimage of a sunset against his closed eyelids, floating and translucent, and lost when he sat down late every night, after a long day of nothing, to type and write and rhapsodize about his own stupidity.
- from "The Writer"I figured if I played cards with her, if I talked to her, if I cared about her, then maybe. It's funny. Though I didn't know in the beginning, as long as I've known her she's been sick. You begin to wonder if you'd like them if they weren't sick. If their sickness is what keeps you there. Are you their friend who has stuck with them to help them through their sickness or does their sickness make you their friend? - from "Dinner with Caitlin McRay"The question to ask yourself is, does the fact that it is all cliche, that it has all been done before and will be done again, better and more fully, does that make loving Jen so passionately, so violently, somehow ? Does the fact that every teenager probably falls in love with the first person they have sex with decrease the strength of my own feeling? Can I still find sanctity and validity in this thing called love? And more importantly, did she love me? - from "Toby Grey"