ISBN #: 978-0143107071
Page Count: 240
Copyright: April 30, 2013
Publisher: Penguin Classics; Reprint Edition
In December 1930, 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 Samarra brilliantly captures the personal politics and easy bitterness of small-town life.
Brimming with wealth and privilege, jealousy and infidelity, John O'Hara's iconic first novel is an unflinching look at the dark side of the American dream. The most widely-known and beloved of his books, Appointment in Samarra is a lasting testament to the keen social intelligence of a major American writer.
I feel like there's something wrong with me. Why? Because I've just read a classic and did not find much to like about it. And can someone please explain where the title came from? Not once in the book (unless I missed it) does it mention Samarra ... which is a city in Iraq, by the way. Nobody in this book travels to Iraq nor do they have an appointment there.
There are rave review blurbs by John Updike and Ernest Hemingway and I'm wondering if they read the same book I did. It's not that I didn't like the book or found it written poorly ... it's just that I didn't find it that amazing (sorry, Penguin).
Julian and Caroline's story, to me, just seems like any other marriage. Perhaps in the 1930s it would have been appalling or shocking, but it's hard for me to imagine. I think the aftereffects of the incident at the beginning of the book (involving Julian, a highball glass, and a prominent club member) was over-exaggerated. Anybody who knew Julian knew he was a drunk and liable to act out. His actions towards the end of the book were somewhat expected. Caroline was overly emotional and I did not feel sympathetic towards her one bit.
It's been said that fans of The Great Gatsby would enjoy Appointment in Samarra. From my experience, that's not true. The Great Gatsby has mystery, intrigue, suspense, deceit, murder, and so much more. The Great Gatsby has a depth to it that Appointment in Samarra cannot compete with. The only similarities between the two books was that they were written around the same time period. Please feel free to read this book for yourself and let me know if you agree with me or not. I'd be interested to see your opinions.
*A physical copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.