Friday, September 12, 2008

From Flames to Samarra

Sedaris, David. When you Are Engulfed in Flames. NY; Boston: Little, Brown & Company, 2008
O'Hara, John. Appointment in Samarra. NY: Random House, 1938.

Submitted by R. Stuhr

What do these two books have in common? Not too much--except that I am in the middle of reading them both. If you are familiar with Sedaris, you will recognize the tone of his latest book--focussing more on Hugh though than the rest of his family. I think Sedaris is at his best when when you are listening to him read, but this is enjoyable reading nonetheless. Painful as his childhood might have been for him, he now lives in Paris and can charge a significant chunk of money for his readings ... so he is doing all right.

Not so much can be said for the characters in O'Hara's brief novel, Appointment in Samarra. It is set in the midst of the depression, social, ethnic, and racial bigotry, unhappy marriages, drinking problems ... but this is a taste of Americana--Pennsylvania Americana. Just as you are starting to get into the story O'Hara introduces a new character and gives you that characters complete background. You get a good feel for the town of Gibbsville and the members of the Lantenengo Country Club. Although this is a tragic novel, it has its humorous moments and I love it when Al Grecco says that Ed, the local mobster and king pin, is the only thing happening from Reading to Wilkes-Barre.

O'Hara Burling 3rd Floor PS3529.H29 A6x
Sedaris Burling, Smith Memorial PS3569.E314 W48 2008

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