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Starting with the novel s opening scene, the frank sexually oriented passages in Appointment in Samarra were obviously shocking for the times And the times, the 30s and within the context of lives of well to do American country clubbers , are vividly created by John O Hara, who sources tell us had an agenda in presenting that world in his cynical, yet humorous point of view.Fran Lebowitz described O Hara as the real F Scott Fitzgerald I m not exactly sure what that means whether dear Fran had her own ax to grind with FSF, or whatever , but AIS is built around the self destruction of Julian English, Cadillac salesman, who ultimately just gives up on life, drinking himself to oblivion, his journey punctuated by violence and the alienation of all in his sphere.Like the failure found in The Great Gatsby, the story O Hara who felt shut out of the elite world of his day tells makes JE a victim of that world, and perhaps a martyr to the American ideal of success also the cause of tragedy if self destruction in the form of burning in the crucible of unrequited love of a rich girl is a form of self destruction and I think it is in Gatsby.Prohibition, the depression, and the fuel that the better off used to keep their social engine running black market booze are all featured in O Hara s gimlet eyed portrait Also, O Hara s portrait of the American way of courtship and love peel the gilt veneer off the elite, proving that under all the fancy dress and attitude they are somewhat like you and me But they are rich, so in the final analysis, they must be different. The book is about three days in the life of Julian English, the 24th, the 25th and the 26th of December 1930 So it is Christmas and during the Prohibition and the Depression Julian is thirty, lives on the right side of the tracks in the fictional town of Gibbsville, a surrogate for Pottsville in the anthracite coal region of eastern Pennsylvania He has a wife that loves him, his father is a doctor and he is himself a wealthy car dealer of Cadillacs He is a member of the town s most posh country club, and yet he drinks, spendsmoney than he has and is a rake He is promiscuous He is immoral, profligate and rash So that is what the story is about, but what made me like it so much The writing, the characters and that it is so very American What we are presented with is real people and real dialogs OK, the setting is 1930, so the issues are different than those of today Our IT gadgets and gizmos do not yet exist, but I recognize in what is said the words and language that shaped my parents, my childhood and myself The expressions and language and habits are genuine not to my life but to the generation that shaped my parents The cocktail before dinner, the partying and that intimate but not so honest talk between mother and wedded daughter The advice given by mother to daughter, what is avoided and what is not said made me smile different form our times but true to earlier times I liked all of this.I think it is something you will appreciate if you are or have American background.I came to care for Julian English I came to understand him and his wife and to feel empathy for him The audiobook is very well narrated by Christian Camargo, although a bit fast in the beginning when many names and characters are thrown at you I had difficulty keeping track of who was who, but that straightens out by the end I have given the narration four stars.I will speak now of the title, Appointment in Samarra and the epigraph with which O Hara s story begins My source is Wiki The title and the epigraph are in reference to W Somerset Maugham s retelling of an ancient Mesopotamian tale in his play Sheppey The epigraph that begins the novel is this A merchant in Baghdad sends his servant to the marketplace for provisions Soon afterwards, the servant comes home white and trembling and tells him that in the marketplace he was jostled by a woman, whom he recognized as Death and she made a threatening gesture Borrowing the merchant s horse, he flees at great speed to Samarra, a distance of about 75 miles 125 km , where he believes Death will not find him The merchant then goes to the marketplace and finds Death and asks why she made the threatening gesture She replies, That was not a threatening gesture, it was only a start of surprise I was astonished to see him in Baghdad, for I had an appointment with him tonight in Samarra Thus the epigraph suggests that fate is central to the story s theme In the foreword to the book s 1953 reprint, O Hara stated that the title and the epigraph speak of the inevitability of Julian English s view spoiler death hide spoiler FREE BOOK ♩ Appointment in Samarra ♹ A Twentieth Century Classic, Appointment In Samarrais The First And Most Widely Read Book By The Writer Fran Leibowitz Called The Real F Scott Fitzgerald In December , Just Before Christmas, The Gibbsville Social Circuit Is Electrified With Parties And Dances, Where The Music Plays Late Into The Night And The Liquor Flows Freely At The Center Of The Social Elite Stand Julian And Caroline English The Envy Of Friends And Strangers Alike But In One Rash Moment Born Inside A Highball Glass, Julian Breaks With Polite Society And Begins A Rapid Descent Toward Self Destruction Appointment In Samarrabrilliantly Captures The Personal Politics And Easy Bitterness Of Small Town Life It Is John O Hara S Crowning Achievement, And A Lasting Testament To The Keen Social Intelligence Of A Major American Novelist From The Trade Paperback Edition This is on The Modern Libraries Top 100 Novels I can see no reason why It s a good book but top 100 Come on This should be like 552 on a list of the 1000 best novels. Like The Great Gatsby but much much better. The stifling atmosphere of small town life is so vividly displayed here that alone made the book difficult for me I m not old enough to know what middle class s were in fact like in the 1930 s but many so called canon Great Books depict the same types of people, occupations and distresses The Wasp set of values in vogue in the past, under which the characters in the book must live, struck me as the American version of Victorian values in the earlier era Julian English s name is a clue to the origin of the social set of rules he is forced to live to earn a living and be respected He is a car dealer who sells cars from a lot Cars are mobile and take you places but everyone in town is in lockdown following scripts of behavior no one dares go rogue from 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 Cars, a symbol of freedom and escape, is obviously the author s vivid choice of irony for his Julian and this symbol of getting away is literally in English s face every day sitting in his car lot He loves his wife but he hates his life Without the life they have in Gibbsville he loses the wife, economic security, and social position English s father is the town s doctor who cures everyone s sickness and he wanted Julian to become a doctor Julian does not want or cannot,accurately, be that guy His tragedy is wanting to fit in and be normal but being unable because of something inside his mind struggling against Gibbsville He is no rebel but unfortunately some unconscious part wants desperately to get away By the end of the novel Julian has without consciously meaning to begun burning bridges to the life he believes he wants in Gibbsville Despite his own values and hard work he is unable to force that unconscious part to submit The tragedy moves to an end to which an unexamined life can lead The book is somewhat autobiographical except unlike the author s protagonist John O Hara very much examines the workings of the human heart At this book s center is the war between what we want and who we are. It seems like Appointment in Samarra SOM a rah is going to be another one of those light comedies about silly rich people, the kind we ve seen quite enough of already thank you and then it gets close and slips the knife in.Julian English is a useless person an idle rich loser who drinks too much One night he throws a drink into some other idle loser s face Predictable social difficulties ensue But mistake is compounded on mistake He is a useless person He is of no use It s one of your better fictional slaps in the face when he and you suddenly realize that this isn t funny view spoiler So Julian commits suicide God help us but he was right, says his wife Caroline, who was planning to leave him It was time for him to die It s been a tragedy all along hide spoiler Segundo a sinopse, Encontro em Samarra um cl ssico da literatura norte americana, com momentos de humor negro pelos quais me pelo , mas que aqui me escaparam.Comprei o porque consta da lista Time Magazine s All Time 100 Novels.Li o porque um utilizador do Goodreads, cujo gosto liter rio muito semelhante ao meu, o classificou com 5 estrelas.Mas n o gostei Porque o desenvolvimento do enredo n o me despertou qualquer interesse as consequ ncias para a vida de um homem que, por impulso, atirou um copo com whisky cara de outro, cuja conversa o irritava porque tem muitas festas e festasnem na leitura as aguento porque as personagens s o tantas que, a certa altura, me perdi e a leitura tornou se fastidiosa s duas estrelas que definem o n o gostei , acrescento uma de b nus, porque fiquei a pensar que deveria corrigir este meu defeito de estar sempre a atirar com copos de vinagre cara de quem me irrita, se n o qualquer dia ainda vou ter um triste fim I had never read anything by O Hara before, and he probably would have stayed off my radar forever if I hadn t read Running with the Bulls My Years with the Hemingways, in which Valerie Hemingway states that O Hara was an author recommended to her by Papa himself but not this title I figured that if a writer is good enough for Papa Hemingway, who am I to pass him by So I figured I would start at the beginning and I was certainly not disappointed I found a book with a noirish if that s a word theme the story of a guy who seems to have the world by the tail on a downhill drag nice house, swell car, trophy wifebut endangers it all through drunkenness, discord, and dissolution O Hara is brilliant in putting you inside the head of the anti hero and all the people he comes in contact with on his debauched slide to the bottom.For something that was published back when my pappy was a baby, this title is ahead of its time in that it almost explores the topic of sex in frank terms Profanity is limited to words that start with b its not that daring Highly recommendedPapa was right after all. On the back of this novel, Hemingway offered the following blurb if you want to read a book by a man who knows exactly what he is writing about and has written it marvelously well, read Appointment in Samarra Unfortunately, the subject John O Hara knows so much about, and about which he does occasionally pen very beautiful pages, is the social life of the country club set in a little backwater city in central Pennsylvania The novel takes place in 1930, but apart from a few passing references, you wouldn t know the Depression was going on The characters are too busy drinking, dancing, shit talking each other, and insulting Jews to take much notice of the wider social scene That s not to say every character in this book is morally repulsive just most of them if Pottsville, Pennsylvania was even 10% as stuck up, materialistic, and socially insular as the Gibbsville he wrote about in this book, I could understand why O Hara got out as fast as he could and headed to New York As for the style, well, I agree with Hemingway O Hara can write, with a lyricism and raw honesty that approaches F Scott Fitzgerald s, and with a level of human insight that approaches Sommerset Maughan s I mention both writers because O Hara does, in the course of the novel he name checks them gratuitously, along with Hemingway himself which might explain the blurb In trying too hard, and in his inconsistency, O Hara seems to havethan a little in common with Julian English, his main character both show real promise, but squander it in boozy self indulgence and by the end, you re not unhappy to see both of them go.