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Book Discussion Guide: Appointment in Samarra by John O'Hara: Reviews

Book reviews

From Kirkus Reviews

Hard-hitting realism applied to a new subject. Instead of the proletariat novel -- or the underworld - or the perverts - this time the microscope is applied to the country club set in a town not many miles from a large city (in this instance Philadelphia). The story moves along swiftly, and gathers momentum as it approaches the inevitable - and yet wholly unwarranted - end. As we read we seem to get under the skin of the characters, sensing their very innermost thoughts and emotions. Is this because John O'Hara has uncanny insight into "what makes the wheels go round" - or does his translation of thought and word and deed into language only in recent years accepted in the parlor (and then only in the ultra-modern set) materially aid in creating the illusion? It's good reading - but will shock a large number of your readers, not because of the story, or any part of it, but wholly because of the D. H. Lawrence terminology being expanded to reflect the thought processes of the would-be-shock proof post-war generation. The youngsters may find it striving for effect - the oldsters will shrink from the baldness of presentation - but there is a middle group, in the large eastern cities, in the smart suburbs, in the communities where there is a "fast" clan, that will read it and discuss it and enjoy it for its honesty, its force, its straight shooting approach to current problems. But watch your step. (Kirkus Reviews, August 1, 1934)