"It's always darkest just before they turn on the lights."


The August 1934 publication of Appointment in Samarra launched John O'Hara's successful writing career.

It wasn't always easy for him, to say the least. Here are some excerpts from an October 23, 1933 letter to his brother Tom:

"I am, as you see, back in New York. I am not working, but am getting by with pieces for The New Yorker, which have been selling well enough to keep my belly provided for, but not so well that I don't dread the coming of colder weather . . .  As I daresay you know (though how, I cannot tell) that I was divorced in Reno in the first week of August . . . . I want her (Pet) to marry me again, and this time make a go of it. and she says she will if I get a job and make some money . . . . since July 4 I have been a sober citizen. I got good and drunk, I mean good and drunk, the night of July 3, and then went on the wagon, and the most I have had in any one day since then has been a cocktail and a glass of wine at dinner . . . I am staying at a place called the Pickwick Arms Residence . . . . I usually sleep all day, get up and have breakfast, meet Pet and go to the movies or something, sneak her home, and then go to Tony's and talk with Dottie Parker, who is by way of being one of my best friends at this point. Or else I go to the Gershwins', Ira and wife, and play backgammon for a cent or a dime a game . . . . My little pieces in The New Yorker, unimportant though they are, are the only things that make the difference between my being dead and alive."  

On October 23, 1940, publication of Pal Joey, his collection of several pieces for The New Yorker. Pal Joey became the well-known Rodgers & Hart musical and later a movie starring Frank Sinatra.

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