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                                 Some Thoughts on Appointment in Samarra and Julian English

I could never connect with the Somerset Maugham "Death Speaks" passage as somehow symbolic of the inevitability of Julian's death. Either this was over my head or John O'Hara was trying to be someone or something he was not when he insisted on the title.

What does resonate with me big time is that the novel, although it takes place in 1930 during the first year of the Great Depression, is really a story of the nineteen twenties and that Julian's death, like the 1929 stock market crash, was truly the end of that era.

In the early nineteen eighties movie Zelig Susan Sontag said "... he (Leonard Zelig) was the phenomenon of the twenties." To me Julian English was the essence of the twenties. If he was not John O'Hara's most fully developed character, he was certainly his most unforgettable.

Thirty years old, a member of the famous drinking fraternity Delta Kappa Epsilon (Deke), he rejected his father's wish to becomne a doctor and instead bought a Cadillac agency, and Cadillacs were a hot item in the roaring twenties. He was the quintessential party boy, alcoholic, wisecracker ("I want to change this tire while I'm still sober"), with a "superb" ear for jazz (in the "jazz age").

What still shocks me is that the Christmas Eve dance at the country club was a full-blown party. The most I ever remember on that sacred night were small get-togethers with a few drinks and quiet dinners and then church attendance around midnight - not these big dances that ran until the early morning hours. I take the author's word that this is what it was like back then.

I don't know what I would have chosen for the title.

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