Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

1956--A Good Year for John O'Hara

Yes, 1956 was a good year for writer John O'Hara.  He had already established himself as a bestselling writer of novels and short stories.  Both Butterfield 8 (1935) and  A Rage to Live (1949) sold well, and he was routinely placing stories in The New Yorker, a magazine which then (as now) was the publication that writers sought.

He'd also had a hit on Broadway--Pal Joey (Rodgers and Hart did the music and lyrics), a 1940 musical based on his series of New Yorker stories about a low-on-the-totem-pole nightclub emcee and performer.  O'Hara had spent some time in Hollywood, too, working on film scripts--and even (briefly) appearing in The General Died at Dawn (1936), a film that certified that O'Hara's strengths lay off-screen.

In 1956, he also received word that he'd won the National Book Award for Fiction for Ten North Frederick, his 1955 novel about generations of a prominent Pennsylvania family.

And--a bonus as far as he was concerned--he had a bi-weekly column ("Appointment with O'Hara"--a playful variation of the title of his first novel, Appointment in Samarra, 1934) in a large-circulation magazine, Collier's.  He'd already had stints with Newsweek ("Entertainment Week," 1940-42) and the Trenton Sunday Times-Advertiser ("Sweet and Sour," 1953-54--the pieces he collected in a book that appeared in 1954--Sweet and Sour).

Later, he would write columns for Newsday (1964-65--collected in his book My Turn, also the title for the column) and for Holiday magazine (1966-67), the only group I've not yet read.

As readers of these posts know, I have been steadfastly reading my way through all of John O'Hara--all his novels and short stories and plays (he was not a good playwright).  And as I near the end of my journey, I've been reading his journalism, as well.  I've read all the newspaper columns, all the Newsweek pieces, and just yesterday I finished the Collier's columns he wrote from 5 February 1954 to 28 September 1956.

They pretty much suck.  As did his other columns.

And tomorrow--I'll tell you why ...

11 May 1956

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