Greg Zink's Reviews > Appointment in Samarra

Appointment in Samarra by John O'Hara
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Mar 08, 12

bookshelves: 2012, modernlib-100, time-100
Read from February 16 to March 07, 2012

If you were to take The Great Gatsby, remove all of the beauty of the love story, tone down the magnificent prose, and transport the action from the glitz of New York to rural Pennsylvania, I guess you'd end up with something like Appointment in Samarra. Meaning it's another tale of Jazz Age excess, which is interesting of itself, but which alone does not make a great novel. Everyone loves Gatsby because of the notion that without his love, all of the opulence is meaningless. In Appointment in Samarra, it seems Julian feels the exact opposite.

So, this book was a bit of a letdown (there are no appointments, least of all in the Middle East :) but I have to admit that it was fairly interesting along the way. I think the back cover of my copy described it as a story of "one man's self-destruction," and it's something you can't help but be drawn to. Like a car wreck, you don't really want to look, but you find yourself doing so anyway. In the case of Julian English, there's the added incentive that our protagonist is a real jerk, so we're kind of inclined to hope for the worst. And the initial cause of his downward spiral is so meaningless to anyone but the reputation-fixated country club crowd that I figured there had to be something more to come. But in the end I suppose that's the point in a book taking a swipe at the Pennsylvania upper crust.

Which brings us back to the disappointment in the book. It's just really hard to give a damn about a bunch of carefree, boozing partiers who never go anywhere or learn anything. By the end of the book, sure, Julian's life is in shambles, but it doesn't make him think about things, it just makes him feel sorry for himself. I read the whole thing because I wanted to see if anything significant would happen, but I'm not sure I would recommend that others do the same.
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Reading Progress

02/20/2012 page 180
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Scott (new)

Scott Hey I have a question. Is this book explicit? Moreover, sexually explicit? Thanks


Greg Zink Scott wrote: "Hey I have a question. Is this book explicit? Moreover, sexually explicit? Thanks"

The thing I read is that it really was for the time period in which it was written. There's some mention of sex, though I wouldn't call it graphic by today's standards. The Wikipedia page for the book has a few passages that are some of the most explicit. That might help you determine how acceptable it is for you.


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