An Invitation to read Appointment in Samarra by John O’Hara this September

Tom, of Wuthering Expectations, has been posting about John O’Hara here. When he mentioned Appointment in Samarra, I immediately wanted to read it with him in September. And, as Tom points out, Samarra in September has nice alliteration.

It is the first novel John O’Hara wrote, published in 1934, and it is listed in both the Modern Library and Times top 100 books.

Here is more about the 240 page novel from Penguin:

One of Time’s All-Time 100 Best Novels

The writer whom Fran Lebowitz called “the real F. Scott Fitzgerald” makes his Penguin Classics debut with this beautiful deluxe edition of his best-loved book.

One of the great novels of small-town American life, Appointment in Samarra is John O’Hara’s crowning achievement. In December 1930, just before Christmas, the Gibbsville, Pennsylvania, social circuit is electrified with parties and dances. At the center of the social elite stand Julian and Caroline English. But in one rash moment born inside a highball glass, Julian breaks with polite society and begins a rapid descent toward self-destruction.

Brimming with wealth and privilege, jealousy and infidelity, O’Hara’s iconic first novel is an unflinching look at the dark side of the American dream—and a lasting testament to the keen social intelligence of a major American writer.


Do consider joining us for Samarra in September! I am sure we will read and post throughout the month as we feel led, and even write one or two tweets using #SamarraInSeptember.

25 thoughts on “An Invitation to read Appointment in Samarra by John O’Hara this September”

  1. If only we could contact everybody working on that Modern Library list.

    Thanks for making the button and so on. This book ought to be a lot of fun, in one way or another.

    Those covers have me worried that someone is going to be killed in a car accident, or hit by a car. We’ll see!

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    1. I added links to both Modern Library’s list and the Times’ list…perhaps that will be a useful reference. Or, not. There were several I would not consider critical to be in the top 100.

      I am really looking forward to reading this with you and others. I have always enjoyed the shared reads we’ve done, from Little, Big to Great Expectations and a few in between. You bring important insights to my awareness.

      I think I read that the car is going to his destination, the appointment he has in Samarra…but we will have to see.

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    1. Speaking of ordering books, Gretchen, I immediately ordered Prayers From the Ark which you had posted about on your beautiful blog. I can’t wait for it to arrive!

      This one will not be so lovely, I think, but it will be interesting to read and discuss. I think it more resembles the scoundrels of the Old Testament, rather than prayers from His creatures. But every book I read shows me something I need to know…whether it is to draw close or stay away!

      I’m glad to be reading with you again, my friend.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Meredith, I would like to join you for the O’hara book but I am trying to move along the Man Booker long list. I was hoping that you and perhaps some of the other big bloggers might read and comment on the Booker english list.I finished Apeirogon yesterday and it is a phenomenal book. It deals with a Palestinian and Jew that became friends because of tragic loss of life on both sides. The book lends itself to discussion and made a huge impact on my thinking about current geopolitical issues. Sincerely, Joe

    >

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    1. I did not know many (most!) of the books listed for the Booker Prize when I saw it a few days ago. The Redhead by the Side of The Road was the only one I have read. Often I have made an effort to read the entire list, and perhaps I will do so again, but I was so very disappointed in what won the prize the past few years. To me, the judges were awarding political ‘correctness’ rather than quality literature. But, I am only one small voice in the reading world. I’m glad that you liked Apeirogon so much! A book that makes a huge impact on one’s thinking is especially valuable, which is part of why I love translated literature so much. It broadens my (sometimes too narrow) mind.

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    1. You are the second person to mention Prayers From the Ark in the past two weeks! I love when that happens…like minds, and such. I have ordered it and eagerly await its arrival from Amazon. I enjoyed your review, Dean, as always.

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    1. I know the joys of waiting for the library to come through! Somehow, in this case, mine did. The book looks so good I might have to buy a copy for my personal library…I do hope you can join us, Ti.

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  3. Thanks for calling my attention to this. John O’Hara is one of those writers I’ve been meaning to read for ages and I know Appointment is one of his best known books (the title alone is enough to hook me in — so evocative and tells you so much, right from the beginning). I have a copy of O’Hara’s collected short stories (he’s reputed to be a great short story writer) and am now the proud owner of the Penguin reissue of Appointment, with its jazzy cover and that wonderful heavy paper. I hope to actually read it (!!!!) and will at least try to follow along in the September discussion.

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    1. I would love to have you, Janakay!! Imagine you already owning the wonderful Penguin edition, and even knowing of John O’Hara already. Sadly, I was not well aware of his work, and I’m glad to remedy this in September! I will have to look into the short stories you mention, too. Thanks for all your knowledge and enthusiasm!

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  4. Tentatively planning to join in on this! My dad was asking just the other day if I’d heard about the story O’Hara takes his title from, so when I read about the readalong, I knew I wanted to join in, even though I know almost nothing about the book or O’Hara.

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    1. You’re in good company, Amanda, with me anyway as I know little about either this novel or O’Hara. But that title, from Somerset Maugham…! I think we’ll have lots to discuss, and I’m so glad you’re joining in.

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