Chosen by Delia Ephron for the WSJ Book Club The writer whom Fran Lebowitz called “the real F. Scott Fitzgerald” makes his Penguin Classics. Originally published in , John O’Hara’s Appointment in Samarra is still the only American novel I know that begins with a scene of a. The new Penguin edition of Appointment in Samarra does justice to O’ Hara’s first great work, a novel that’s sensual, shattering and unknowable.

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That was not a threatening gesture, I said, it was only a start of surprise. I will go to Samarra and there Death will not find me. Perhaps we’re supposed to take some pleasure in Julian’s tornado-strength downward spiral, but he’s not even interesting enough to hate. Julien, appointmwnt too many drinks, decided he had enough. He believes that as a result of his behavior, and the community’s sympathy for Caroline, “no girl in Gibbsville—worth having—would risk the loss of reputation which would be her punishment for getting herself identified with him”.

John O’Hara may not have had the most felicitous style of his generation, but he had plenty to say.

I was astonished to see him in Bagdad, for I had an appointment with him tonight in Samarra. I never moved in these high social circles and, frankly, am pretty much unaware of them now.

The Savage Grace in John O’Hara’s Classic, ‘Appointment in Samarra’

But mistake is compounded on mistake. He loves his wife but he hates saamarra life. He was too good a novelist for the antics he pulled; but then I think he was aware of this.

One night he throws a drink into some other idle loser’s face. I really enjoyed this when I read it a million years ago. Each time a new back-story began, for whichever character central or sideI cringed, wondering when the story would move on.


Er hat kein Mitleid mit Julian, und als Leser ergeht es mir genauso. The title and the way it is cued up with a famous quote from Maugham is brilliant.

Julian thought and thought about Caroline and Harry, and thought against them, against their being drawn to each other sexually, which was the big thing that mattered. One of the right people we meet is Julien English.

She replies, “That was not a threatening gesture, it was only a start of surprise.

John O’Hara: Appointment in Samarra – The Mookse and the Gripes

He is no rebel but unfortunately some unconscious part wants desperately to get away. LitFlash The eBooks you want at the lowest prices. I would say no, it’s neither depressing nor fatalistic. The title, with its whiff of mystery and exoticism, is a bit incongruous for a story about a Pennsylvania Cadillac salesman.

In the appointmdnt, three of his successful novels were turned into major movies: She has earned johh sleep, for it is Christmas morning, strictly speaking, and all the day before she has worked like a dog, cleaning the turkey and baking things, and, until a few hours ago, trimming the tree. Sep 16, Captain Sir Roddy, R. Conversely, how do the men undermine and destroy the women? Several times I thought to myself “Yes, that’s exactly the way it is, but nobody would write it that way” Someone asked me if the story was depressing.

At this book’s center is the war between what we want and who we are.

Appointment in Samarra

Please try again later. You young guys are making me feel my age — my first phone number as a child was SHerwood see, I still remember it — note the Robin Hood echo that it introduces. By Trevor Berrett T Well, here I am, just a few months shy of turning 60 years old, and I have recently discovered the short stories and novels of John O’Hara. His tragedy is wanting to fit in and be “normal” but being unable because of something inside his mind struggling against Gibbsville.


Retrieved from ” https: Sheila Engh February 5, at Julian is a name that echoes Thomas Hardy’s Julian who is a character attempting to break the bonds of class holding him down into a preset box of social rules of English society in an earlier century.

Appointment in Samarra is really not much more than a longish novella, but every word, every sentence and every paragraph is so brilliantly assembled on the page. The epigraph that begins the novel is this: His narrative technique and dialogue both are steeped in the jargon of his heyday, Prohibition Era, small town America.

Read it Forward Read it first. What parallels might be drawn between Appointment in Samarra and the real life events of the early s impacting Jewish communities in America and around the world? His downfall is majestic and devastating.

Why, he wondered, did he hate Harry Reilly? Carolines Bitten, nicht zu viel zu trinken, sind rege Weihnachten My Years with the Hemingwaysin which Valerie Hemingway states that O’Hara was an author recommended to her by Papa himself but not this title.

Julian doesn’t belong to Fitzgerald’s Jazz Appointment ; he is ten years younger and belongs to what came to be called the hangover generation, the young people who grew up accustomed to the good life without having to earn it.