O'Hara, John

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

O'Hara, John

John O'Hara, 1905–70, American novelist and short-story writer, b. Pottsville, Pa. He worked at a number of jobs and ultimately became a newspaperman before the appearance of his first novel, Appointment in Samarra (1934). The book, an immediate success, began O'Hara's long career as a highly commercial and popular writer. Among his other novels are Butterfield 8 (1935), Pal Joey (1940; musical comedy adaptation, 1941), A Rage to Live (1949), Ten North Frederick (1955), From the Terrace (1958), The Lockwood Concern (1965), and The Ewings (1972). O'Hara, who wove his tales around themes of class, sex, and booze, has been called a photographic, acid observer of American urban life. Some critics believe his best work is in his collections of short stories, many of which first appeared in the New Yorker; these include The Doctor's Son (1935), Hellbox (1947), Assembly (1961), The Cape Cod Lighter (1962), The Horse Knows the Way (1964), and Good Samaritan and Other Stories (1974).

See Selected Letters of John O'Hara (1978), ed. by M. J. Bruccoli; biographies by F. Farr (1973), M. J. Bruccoli (1975, repr. 1995), F. MacShane (1980), and G. Wolff (2003).

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