John O’Hara: Contribution as American Novelist

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      John O’Hara (1905-1970), novelist and short story writer, was born in Pottsville, Pennsylvania, a town which later figured as the “Gibbsville;’ of his fiction. His first novel Appointment in Samarra (1934), is set in Gibbsville and is naturalistic account of three days that culminate in the suicide of Julian English, the victim of a stratified society and of his own reckless sexual appetite. Trained as a journalist, John O’Hara was a prolific writer of plays, stories, and novels. He was a master of careful, telling detail and is best remembered for several realistic novels, mostly written in the 1950s, about outwardly successful people whose inner faults and dissatisfaction leave them vulnerable. The book was well received and in the same year O’Hara embarked upon his new career as a Hollywood screenwriter which lasted until mid 1940s.

      Butterfield 8 (1935) is a novel about the experience of a Manhattan newspaperman. Pal Joey (1940) which he adapted as musical in the same year, consists of a comic series of letters from the night club entertainer to a friend. Other novels include - A Rage to Live (1949), Ten North Frederick (1955), From the Terrace (1959) Ourselves to Know (1960), The Big Laugh (1962), and The Lockwood Concern (1965). Sermons and Soda water, a collection of three novels, was published in 1960. His short stories, like his novels, often focus on questions of class and social privilege. His collections include - The Doctor’s Son (1935), Files on Parade (1939) Pipe Night, Hellbox (1947), Assembly (1961), The Cape Cod Lighter (1962), The Horse Knows the Way (1964), and Waiting for Winter (1967). His dramatic works were published in Five Plays (1961).

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