My long essay/booklet on John O'Hara, a piece I'm calling "a brief biographical memoir," is now available on Kindle Direct for the whopping (low) price of $2.99. (You can read it on your smart phone or tablet if you download the free Kindle app.)
The publication is the result of several years' work. Below, I've reproduced the Foreword and some of the other front matter. Note, too, that in a separate posting today I'm providing photographs of some of the key locations I mention in the publication.
To Prof. Abe C. Ravitz
Who, during my years at Hiram College (1962–1966), showed me a brave new world, gave me some of the maps I would need to explore it, and wished me bon voyage.
And so it has been …
What follows is an account of my recent pursuit—consuming several years—of John O’Hara, 1905–1970, a writer who at the height of his long, controversial career enjoyed bestseller status and serious, if mixed, critical reception. This is a personal story—a memoir of my (mild?) obsession—although I necessarily include lots of information about O’Hara’s life and career, about his books, essays, plays, and journalism.
It’s important to note what this publication is not. As its very brevity certifies, this is neither a comprehensive biography (there are many aspects of his life I do not explore—or even mention) nor a close reading of O’Hara’s many works. Although I do sketch some of the details of O’Hara’s life and some specific works, I urge readers who are eager for more to consult the biographies listed in the bibliography. Mine is an account of a curious tourist, one who pauses to look closely at things that interest him, then moves on.
This piece is full of a tourist’s opinions, as well—my assessments of his work, of his life, of his writing’s ultimate value. Positive and negative. I realize, of course, that no one has the Final Word on anyone else, and this effort does not pretend to be definitive. Other readers will have other opinions, will wear other lenses through which to view this most remarkable man—and story. Despite some negative things I say here, I’ve greatly enjoyed my journeys through O’Hara’s work, my explorations of his worlds. And I am grateful for those who supplied directions, comfort, and encouragement along the way.