Chosen by Delia Ephron for the WSJ Book Club
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 if a major American writer.
For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
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A twentieth-century classic, Appointment in Samarra" is the first and most widely read book by the writer Fran Leibowitz called "the real F. Scott Fitzgerald."
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. It is John O'Hara's crowning achievement, and a lasting testament to the keen social intelligence of a major American novelist.
“Exceptionally brilliant.” —New York Herald Tribune
“[O'Hara] is the only American writer to whom America presents itself as a social scene in the way it once presented itself to Henry James, or France to Proust.” —Lionel Trilling, The New York Times
“Dramatic . . . exciting . . . vivid and written at high speed . . . accurate and often penetrating.” —The Nation
“If you want to read a book by a man who knows exactly what he is writing about and has written it marvelously well, read Appointment in Samarra.” —Ernest Hemingway
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