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                                                           The Doctor's Son

On February 21, 1935 Harcourt, Brace published The Doctor's Son and Other Stories.

John O'Hara had written The Doctor's Son in 1933. When it became apparent Appointment in Samarra (August 1934) was going to be a success, the publisher moved ahead with this collection.

Matthew Bruccoli writes: " 'The Doctor's Son' is an initiation story...it initiates a boy into the realities of death and adult behavior. Against the background of the slaughter of the 1918 flu epidemic, fifteen year-old Jimmy Malloy learns that death can be arbitrary and that nice women can be adulterous."
The O'Hara Concern, page 119. For further analysis of this gem, see Steven Goldleaf's comments in John O'Hara - A Study of the Short Fiction, which includes a three and a half page essay by David Castonovo.

Here's the opening:

   My father came home at four o'clock one morning in the fall of 1918, and plumped down on a couch in the living room. He did not get awake until he heard the noise of us getting breakfast and getting ready to go to school, which had not yet closed down. When he got awake he went out front and shut off the engine of the car, which had been running while he slept, and then he went to bed and stayed, sleeping for nearly two days. Up to that morning he had been going for nearly three days with no more than two hours' sleep at a stretch.
  There were two ways to get sleep. At first he could get it by going to his office, locking the rear office door, and stretching out on the floor on the operating table. He would put a revolver on the floor beside him or in the tray that was bracketed to the operating table. He had to have the revolver, because here and there among the people who would come to his office, there would  be a wild man or woman, threatening him, shouting that they would not leave until he left with them, and that if their baby died they would come back and kill him ...

A few years ago I stood at the corner of Mahantongo and 6th Streets and looked at the front of the O'Hara homestead at #606 and actually saw that car with the engine running.

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