O'Connor was a radio personality, journalist, and novelist, originally from Rhode Island who spent most of his professional life in and around Boston, Massachusetts. He attended the University of Notre Dame and afterward served in the United States Coast Guard during World War II. In 1946 he began working as a free lance author, selling his stories and reports to numerous magazines, including Atlantic Monthly.
In the 1950's, he began a career as a television critic for two Boston newspapers, a profession he would follow for the rest of his life. He also wrote his first novel, The Oracle (1951).
Soon afterward, he wrote the novel for which he is most remembered, The Last Hurrah (1956). The novel concerns a Boston Irish politician, Frank Skeffington, as seen through the eyes of a nephew whom he invites to accompany him on what turns out to be an unsuccessful reelection campaign. Skeffington has a gentlemanly manner, lacing his talk with literary quotations. He is slightly corrupt, but delivers service to his constituents. He is an expert at juggling and balancing the claims of the various Boston-area ethnic groups. But his time has past, and he loses the election. While not a roman à clef, there are points of similarity between Skeffington and Boston mayor James Michael Curley. This novel was adapted for film in 1958, and O'Connor wrote the screenplay himself.
He won the Pulitzer Prize for his next novel, The Edge of Sadness, the story of a middle-aged priest in Boston.
I Was Dancing, (1964) is a novel about an aging vaudevillian who tries to reconnect with his son after twenty years of casual neglect.
His last novel, All in the Family, appeared in 1966. (It has no connection at all to the later television series of the same name). It is a profile of a Massachusetts family with a driving... [continues]
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