Sunday, 23 February 2014

Appointment in Samarra, by John O'Hara

Why I read it: Harold Bloom's Western Canon

Podcasts: None

Brow: Upper middle

Summary: Julian English is not having a great Christmas break. Although he is wealthy and well-educated and has a beautiful young wife and a thriving business, he has a self-destructive streak a mile wide. On Christmas Eve, he follows through on a drunken impulse to throw a drink in the face of one of his most important customers and investors. This sets off a three-day long series of bad choices that will include binge drinking, cheating on his wife, and starting a brawl in the country-club locker room. At the end, the reader is forced to wonder if the events are fate, or just poor decision making.

But should you read it? For some reason, I find it much easier to pick up a tragic book than I do to sit down and watch a tragic movie, even though the latter will be finished faster. But not much faster in this case. The book is about 200 pages long and the plot moves at a quick clip. So go ahead and spend a rainy late-winter afternoon reading about Julian English's self-propelled downfall.

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