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Publisher's Summary

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.

©2013 John O'Hara (P)2013 Penguin Audio

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.2 out of 5.0
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Performance

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Story

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  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Quite good, but not a classic

O’Hara thought he was better than Hemingway…he wasn’t. Yet this novel has its points, examining the power of society and belief. I did not find this one of the best novels of the twentieth century, but it is more than respectable. The power of the story is the all too obvious inability of humans to be themselves. Hemingway liked this novel, which makes sense. Hemingway and O’Hara examined the same issue (society vs. individuality) from utterly different perspectives and both valued truth. Both perspectives are interesting making this, for me, a good read, if not a must read. I did not find this a downer as the point is to avoid reaching your end without ever being your true self.

The narration is good, but not great, occasionally losing intensity necessary to the story.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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O'Hara's Best?

Although this was his first novel, in some ways, I think it's O'Hara's best. His style is fully formed, his voice distinct. It's much more focused than his longer, more rambling novels, and the portrait of a time and place are incredibly strong. The characters are vivid and unforgettable, and watching Julian's downward slide is a harrowing experience.

Christian Camargo's reading is flawless. He inserts just the right amount of bitterness and tenderness, makes the characters distinct without exaggeration. It's brilliant.

An American classic and highly recommended.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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excellent & a bit existentialist & Hemingway-esque

very nice writing. nice period detail. a bit Gatsby-ish but written with Hemingway-esque tone, and with the "lost generation" themes running through it, some aimless, drunken living, frank detail and again i think very existentialist feeling.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Not worth using your point

The reader did a great job with a tedious story of a member of the Gibbsville country club set getting drunk, doing dumb things, and having massive hangovers. I got tired of it all. What happens with Julian English was earned (O'Hara gives us plenty of warning). And yes, there is a little lesson about how these people lived and how people like Julian were naive, callow, excessive, and totally unprepared for what life was about to dish out. But I just didn't care. Hemmingway loved this novel. That alone, should have warned me off.

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Book is a downer.

This book is often considered a classic. It has a catchy start and end with a Persian folk tale. Everything in between is depressing.

The entire story transpires in less than a week as a salesman destroys himself by stupid misbehavior during periods of heavy drinking. Nothing in this book is cheerful. From start to finish it is a downer.

Pure Schadenfreude. If you get pleasure from the misfortune of others you will enjoy this book.

I probably should have rated the performance as five star because the reader made a disgusting person seem more disgusting, but also so blind to his faults as to be helpless in a slide to death.

Jim Fuqua

4 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Didn't think I'd like it

This was a surprise. Another one from the classic 100 a friend challenged me to read. It was fun to go back in this time and try to understand the hip lingo. More important though is the portryal of the wealthy, their vices, vanity, and shortcomings. Scary that I don't believe much has changed.

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Unexpected pleasure...

Reading 100 Modern Novels, so probably wouldn't have come across this otherwise...Although a dated setting, the characters pop off the page..Some storylines, especially Al Greco, were left hanging, but life doesn't always tie off neatly...

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I adore John O Hara

Mr. O'Hate skewers all with his biting, funny, poignant, heartbreaking social observations
A-1 read. I am reading all of his writing. Brilliant

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Not perfect, but very good

I suspect that this book is a wonderful read, but not as wonderful a listen

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Not up to my memory of O'Hara's work.

I stopped listening at the end chapter 6 and finished reading the text silently to myself.