Saturday, May 4, 2013
Appointment in Samarra by John O'Hara
Appointment in Samarra was originally published in 1934 and is being re-issued this coming week. I love this book!
Basically, it tracks the destruction of a formerly socially set guy, Julian English. He comes from the right family, marries the perfect wife, has a great job and is very much in with the right crowd. Then he makes some odd (read, very bad) social choices and his life goes awry.
The book is interesting as a period piece, of the life as it was lived during the earlier years of the Great Depression in the United States. I love books that are so in their time and give us insight into the mood of people in a given reality.
But the book also transcends the historical impact and takes us into the conflicts the characters face as life, or fate, hits them in the face (generally with little warning). This book also reminds me a little of the British tales of local village life I'd pick up when visiting my grandparents in Wales. It's intimate and deals with the petty details people confront every day. We get to know them, for good and bad.
I wouldn't call this the great American novel but no book should be expected to be. It's instead a fun read, that teaches me a little about a lot. And, to end where I started, I loved it.