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A Rage to Live was a financial success, but the reviews were mixed.

"The review that caused the author the most hurt and anger - and actually altered the shape of O'Hara's career - was Brendan Gill's in The New Yorker...Gill applied the terms 'sprawling,' 'discursive' and 'prolix,' and indicated O'Hara was finished as a novelist...'It's hard to understand how one of our best writers could have written this book, and it is because of O'Hara's distinction that his failure here seems in the matter of a catastrophe.'" Bruccoli, Matthew, The O'Hara Concern, page 189.

This is one of the reasons O'Hara left The New Yorker, and this is what he wrote in the next ten years:

Short stories: The Favor (1952), That First Husband (1959).
Novellas: The Farmers Hotel (1952), A Family Party (1956).
Novels: Ten North Frederick (1955), From the Terrace (1958), Ourselves to Know (1960).

I remember Brendan Gill; he could get pretty nasty, nonetheless I agree with his terms "sprawling," "discursive" and "prolix." But so what? Yes, maybe O'Hara could have used a good head-strong editor with a good pair of scissors and glue, and yes, maybe A Rage to Live and From the Terrace could have had different endings; yet, if you let O'Hara tell his stories in his own way the greatness of his literature, much of it unsurpassed in quality, comes through big.
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On February 9, 1946 the short story Common Sense Should Tell You was published in The New Yorker and later in Hellbox.

On February 9, 1970 he finished his novelThe Ewings. He wrote a sequel, The Second Ewings, but died before he could finish it. A few years ago at the Annual General Meeting of the John O'Hara Society in Philadelphia one of our members, Jack Hitchner, brought with  him (I didn't have a chance to read it) a typewritten seventy page plus manuscript of this work.







2 comments:

Richard Carreño, Editor | Empowered by Writers Clearinghouse Est. 1976 @ Fabyan, Connecticut said...

Many years ago, I met Gill during a fundraising event on behalf of the Hartford CT Public Library. I was aware that Gill held an animus against O'Hara -- both as writer and individual. I brought up this up during private conversation I had with him. Actually, Gill turned out to be a very pleasant, kindly fellow -- and expressed sympathy for O'Hara! Richard.

RGK said...

His description of O'Hara in HERE AT THE NEW YORKER is certainly critical, but doesn't come across as mean spirited or unsympathetic, if memory serves.

I met Gill once at a literary symposium and also found him to be charming, although O'Hara did not come up in our brief conversation. We discussed Alec Waugh.