Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Sermons and Soda Water by John O'Hara

Sermons and soda waterSermons and soda water by John O'Hara
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My goal was to read an older book alternating with a hot, new title. This served well as I had never read O'Hara which would now be considered historical fiction, it takes place in the Thirties, Forties, Fifties in Pennsylvania. The story also tied in with the movie we watched last night, The Swimmer, from the John Cheever tale about a man whose exalted social position collapses with the loss of his job. Sermons and soda water follows the lives of Ivy Leaguers from a small town, Gibbsville, who fall on hard times in their financial and marital fortunes. O'Hara uses lots of dialogue introduce his characters. Class and status are important yet the key couple, Bobbie and Pete, disregard it: Bobbie has an affair with the bootlegger and frequents the Dan Patch Tavern while Pete works at the aluminum plant and sleeps with a typist. Flagons of drink are consumed, in fact, the bootlegger accuses Bobbie of being a lush ending their tryst. People get sore, not angry; bawl not cry; get the bounce instead of being fired or laid off. A slice of Americana, well written by an significant author whom my mom forbid teenage me to read (Appointment in Samarra/Butterfield 8/Hope of Heaven all classics).

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