Sunday, November 06, 2005

Appointment in Samarra (by John O'Hara)

Here's another one of those "thank god for the reading list" books. Appointment in Samarra is wonderful; I can't recommend it enough. It's the American social scene as observed by F. Scott Fitzgerald, crossed with the lean prose style of Hemingway, sprinkled with a little bit of Henry Miller's sexual forthrightness. In many ways the ultimate modern novel.

I ran across this book at the bookstore. I went to go look it up because it was on my reading list (and I believe on the Time Magazine reading list) and I hadn't heard of it. As soon as I read the epigram, which is where the title comes from, by way of W. Somerset Maugham, I was sucked in. I read the first couple of chapters right there, and it became one of those very rare books (these days, anyway) that I would actually buy.

"She let her eyes get tender in a way she had, starting a smile and them seeming to postpone it. She stood in front of him and kissed him. Without taking her mouth away she pulled his tie out of his vest and unbuttoned his vest, and then she let him go. 'Come on !' she said, and lay with her face down on the pillow, shutting out everything else until he was with her. It was the greatest single act of their married life. He knew it, and she knew it. It was the time she did not fail him." (Page 66)

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