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Appointment in Samarra (Vintage Classics)

Appointment in Samarra (Vintage Classics) [Kindle Edition]

John O'Hara
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £7.54
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Product Description


"Mr O'Hara's eyes and ears have been spared nothing, but he has kept in his heart a curious and bitter mercy" -- Dorothy Parker "O'Hara writes with swift realism, wisely avoids sentimentality" Time Magazine "Dramatic...exciting...vivid and written at high speed...accurate and often penetrating " The Nation "Better than anyone else, he told the truth about his time, the first half of the twentieth century. He was a professional. He wrote honestly and well" -- John O'Hara on John O'Hara. He had this inscribed on his gravestone.

Book Description

'For all its excellence as a social panorama and a sketch of a marriage, it is as a picture of a man destroyed by drink and pride that Appointment in Samarra lives frighteningly in the mind' John Updike

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 559 KB
  • Print Length: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Digital (27 May 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0031RS5EW
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #62,885 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent look at small town America 11 May 1999
By A Customer
An excellent look at a Christmas weekend in the life of Julian English, a Cadillac dealer in a small town in Pennyslvania, and his wife Caroline. Many scenes, especially those that take place at the local country club, are expertly sketched and in Dr English, Julian's father, O'Hara creates a model of concise characterization. I did find the flashbacks in the lives of Julian and Caroline somewhat tedious, however.The book also works as a slice of history, from a time when the full devastation to be wrought by the Great Depression was not forseen. The ending, reminiscent of "The Great Gatsby", has a beautiful irony which lingers in the mind.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Suffocating small town America 9 Nov 2007
John O'Hara's bleak depiction of suffocating small town America is spot on in Appointment in Samarra.

Alcoholic cadillac dealer Julian English makes one mistake that rapidly spirals out of control. He knows how difficult it will be to make amends for throwing a drink in the face of the town bore Harry after a particularly tedious evening spent in his company, but he tries anyway - albeit unsuccesfully.

No one likes Harry, but that doesn't make a difference because it's a small town and he wields power over many of the influential people there because he's lent money to many of them. There's a feeling that English is caught in a trap and doesn't know what to do to get out of it and whatever he does seems to make things worse as he manages to alienate friends and family and even his beloved wife.

Appointment in Samarra is written in a style that is sparse and precise with great psychological insight.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I picked this recommendation up from reading a book called "The End of Your Life Book Club". I'd never heard of this book or this author but it is highly rated by lots of different sources so worth giving a go.
The book is a snapshot of a privileged section of small town Pennsylvania society in the 1930s. The mood feels very genuine and gives the impression of a society which is brittle and full of individuals desperate to prove themselves to their peers.
This story was written in 1934 and I suspect it was quite a controversial view at the time. Now we see it differently, as a comment on the period which hasn't lost any of its power in the last 80 years.
Where it loses it's strength is the characters. The author is able to introduce them all with just a few words, then he does it again and again and again to the point that there are so many characters that they take away from the plot which is a shame. I wanted to know more about Julian and his wife but found all of the auxiliary people distracting.
I admired this book but found that I didn't really care about Julian and ended up not worrying about what he did.
It is a great period piece but I didn't agree with many of the reviews.
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Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
As a vintage novel, this captures America in the 1930s very well. The scene is set in small-town Gibbsville, a community of country club members and aspiring car salesmen, of Prohibition gangsters and families with the same traditions of minor boarding school, college and mid-American lifestyle. The characters are crafted with a shrewd perspective on religious divides: Catholics versus Wasps and both versus the Jewish fraternity. It is a tale of lost opportunities, personal disappointments and self-deception pitched against a backdrop of family expectations and general lassitude.
It is not a particularly uplifting novel. None of the characters are charismatic or even likeable, with the exception of the lesser persona whose lives are predictable and relatively uninspiring. It reminded me a little of Hemingway's early work, written in a sparse and realistic style. Not a long book, it's something you can read on holiday but you'll easily put it down for a dip in the pool! You come away thinking about the futility of trying to live up to others' expectations and the inevitable decline, once you take the route of self-medication through alcohol or sex.
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