Books »Appointment in Samarra

Appointment in Samarra by John O'HaraThe granddaddy of all asshole-men novels. It's easy to how the story of Julian English and his three day spiral into utter self destruction could have influenced John Updike's Rabbit series and contemporary asshole anylist David Gates. O'Hara's novel is ahead of its time not only in it terms of content, but his frank and natural writing style.

Despite this novel's place in TIME Magazine's top 100 novels of all time, being called “the real F. Scott Fitzgerald” by Fran Lebowitz and being praised by both Updike and Ernest Hemingway, O'Hara is not without his detractors, mostly due to his notorious bad temper, shameful social climbing, and huge ego. It seems he took the phrase “go with what you know” quite literally in this precise and deep study of a man and his ambitions and the unfortunate blunder of getting in his own way.

I've also read his controversial book Butterfield 8 which became a big movie starring Elizabeth Taylor, and is worth reading, but this novel is by far my favorite.

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Posted on January 15, 2007

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