"Conversation at Lunch"


On July 2, 1944, publication of "Conversation at Lunch." Good Housekeeping. The Time Element & Other Stories.

   We were lunching - Harmon Gray and I - at the Cothernos Club when I happened to look up at the moment Norbert Abbott was passing our table. He kept on going, joining another actor at the opposite end of the dining room . . .
   "What kind of fellow is he?" I asked.
   Harmon looked out the window before answering. "I don't really know," he replies. "I honestly don't know."

The answer is explained by Steven Goldleaf (John O'Hara - A Study of the Short Fiction): " . . . the lengthy framing conversation concerns the dubious integrity of a successful club member who, as if on cue, comes to the table and is asked, delicately but clearly, for a loan that he can and should quite easily grant. He declines and, in the process, invents unnecessary lies, confirming his faithless character." page 48.

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