Author and Scene contributor Erin O’Brien continues to learn more about her late brother John O’Brien, the author of Leaving Las Vegas, by reading the work he left behind. The most recent of his works to be published posthumously, a novel called Better, will be released by Akashic Books in August. “Once I googled Zipper Allele [the name of the main character’s hooker friend], I couldn’t stop digging into the book to find more clues as to who he was, why he’s dead, why he committed suicide,” she says. Zipper Allele is a term used in analysis of human genetic code. There’s another character named “Double Felix,” an apparent allusion to the double-helix structure of DNA. Erin says John wrote the novel — a story of jealous love among layabout drunkards in a mansion overlooking Los Angeles — right after finishing Leaving Las Vegas. The more Erin dug into the book and its metaphors, the more convinced she became that her brother blamed his profound addiction to alcohol on his DNA. “He couldn’t amputate this addiction any more than he could amputate the color of his eyes,” she says. Erin O’Brien (who wrote about her brother's legacy for Free Times in 2008) reads from and discusses Better at 7 p.m. at Mac’s Backs Books (1820 Coventry Rd., Cleveland Heights, 216.321.2665). Free. — Michael Gill
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