July 21, 2012

Book: Appointment in Samarra by John O’Hara

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 3:21 pm

This is a different book from what I expected. It talks about John English, at a point where his life starts spiralling down. John is a successful car dealer, son of the Lion who is a lawyer and a commanding figure. John is married to Caroline Walker, a very beautiful woman who is fully in love with him.

It starts with his alienating the most powerful but irritating man called Harry Reilly, by throwing whiskey in his face in a party for apparently no reason at all. To compound the problem, the ice cubes in the drink give Reilly a black eye and he is a vindictive man. Julian then goes all out to antagonize everyone in turn, picking a fight with his friends Hoffman, Bobby and practically everyone else.

The story is also populated by Ed Charney, who is a mafia don but has a soft spot for Julian and gives him an enormous amount of business. Julian manages to completely upset him and his own wife Carolin by walking out in the middle of the party with Ed’s girlfriend Helen, even while the local thug, Al Grecco had been ordered to watch over her wayward ways, especially when drunk. (By now you think that even if he is setting out deliberately to sabotage his own life, he cannot do a better job)

The thing escalates to a predictable climax.

The story is told very simply, and lacks the depth or charm of master storytellers like Naipaul, for instance, or Maugham (after whose
anecdote is the book named). The behavious of Julian is more like a spoilt brat than an adult, however irresponsible, because in life, even a hot headed guy like Julian would not go so far.

The Paster, who is Roman Catholic but has a soft spot for Protestant drunkard Julian, is interesting. Unfortunately, it is all that is

The end of the book is a bit touching, but otherwise, it is a slow, plodding, boring, read, with not much by way of reward when you are done. I would advise you to give this one a miss.

:Let us say, a  3/10

— Krishna


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