Tag Archives: #JohnO’Hara

…Great Authors’ openers that grab yeez by the throat and pull yeez into their novels…

…this ol’ Jurassic has many, many favourite novels from my early reading days… a time when as a twenty-sum’thing young man I was beginning to enjoy the glimpses into WURLDS created in the minds of scribbling geniuses’ of the thirties, forties, fifties and sixties… recently I’ve featured the names of some of those, and another wee elaboration here seems in order… particularly the strength of the ‘openers’ employed… the inaudible, but uber-persuasive ‘hooks’ that leaves yeez no choice as a reader but to plunge right in and immerse yerselves in their WURKSJohn O’Hara’s first novel, Appointment in Samarra has a prologue lifted from a version of an old Arab tale recounted in W. Somerset Maughm’s 1932 play, Sheppey:



There was a merchant in Baghdad who sent his servant to market to buy provisions and in a little while the servant came back, white and trembling, and said, Master, just now when I was in the market-place I was jostled by a woman in the crowd and when I turned I saw it was Death that jostled me. She looked at me and made a threatening gesture; now, lend me your horse, and I will ride away from this city and avoid my fate. I will go to Samarra and there Death will not find me. The merchant lent him his horse, and the servant mounted it, and he dug his spurs in its flanks and as fast as the horse could gallop he went. Then the merchant went down to the market-place and he saw me standing in the crowd and he came to me and said, Why did you make a threatening gesture to my servant when you saw him this morning? That was not a threatening gesture, I said, it was only a start of surprise. I was astonished to see him in Baghdad, for I had an appointment with him tonight in Samarra.’

…gripping stuff, innit?…

honey badger

…jump to another, often less-trumpeted authorial giant, Robert Ruark, whose last novel, The Honey Badger, published after his death in the mid-sixties, opens with this cracker of a prologue:

‘There is a bloody brave little animal in Africa called the Honey Badger. It may be the meanest animal in the world. It kills for malice and for sport, and it does not go for the jugular – it goes straight for the groin. It has a lot in common with the modern American woman.’

LUV ‘EM both… see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!



Filed under Blether, Scribbling & Stuff

…Literary Titans to whom I owe so much… thanks for yer WURKS…

…just this morning I had an exchange of greetings with Crooked Cat Publishing Authoress, Jane Bwye, and discovered she had spent most of her life in Kenya… her books are on offer at present on Amazon, I LIFT UP MY EYES and BREATH OF AFRICA




…but it triggered a thought process with me… I’ve never been to Kenya, but one of the greatest novelists whose WURK I’ve enjoyed is Robert Ruark, and his UHURU (Freedom) dealt with the aftermath of Independence in that country, with all the ramifications of the guerrilla group, the infamous Mau-Mau




…in my early twenties at the time, forty years ago, it led me to immerse myself in some of Ruark’s other classics, and specifically POOR NO MORE and THE HONEY BADGER… in previous posts, I’ve alluded to the debt I owe to guys like Ruark whose writing formed the benchmark for my LUV of good literature…

…great quill-scrapers such as John Steinbeck, whose books about the rigours of life through the decades of the Depression and the Dust Bowl exodus toward the promised land of California are written in such a ‘phalanx of writing’ where it’s sum’times difficult to tell where one book ends and the next begins…




…the overlap is masterful in tomes such as THE GRAPES OF WRATH, OF MICE AND MEN, CANNERY ROW and EAST OF EDEN among a stable of prize-winning novels…

…include also, John O’Hara, another literary giant, whose coverage of the East Coast American scene through the forties and fifties is immense, with A RAGE TO LIVE, FROM THE TERRACE, and APPOINTMENT IN SAMARRA superb reading…





…the common element for me with all of these writers is the sheer solidity of their prose… it’s almost as if yeez could slice portions of the narrative, wrap it up, and take it away with yeez… they breathe life into their characters, warts and all, that yeez are alongside them in everything they do in the stories… LUV ‘em!… go pick up some of these titles and enjoy a throwback to how the ‘oldies’ strutted their scribbling stuff… see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!




Filed under Blether, Scribbling & Stuff

…an Author’s LUV of Steinbeck, O’Hara and Ruark… born of British Rail employees’ industrial strikes in the 1970’s… #TBSU…

…more than forty years ago, this ol’ Jurassic was pitched out of Bonnie Scotland to go peddle his banking wares in London’s Lombard Street… smack bang in the middle of the alleged greatest Financial District in the Universe… (not a patch on my birthplace of Docklands Govan in Glasgow, if yeez ask me, however…but that’s another story)… sloshing around in the heady WURLD of foreign exchange and promissory notes, a tiny Scottish cog, helping to keep the smooth wheels of international trade from seizing up, I played my part… in the main, it was a fun time… a learning experience… a blossoming ‘pin-stripe-suiter’ (no bowler hat, it should be recorded), I travelled daily from the outskirts of the capital to my allotted desk in one of the metropolis’ finest implanted Scottish banks… a trip which covered an hour and a half by train, door-to-desk, and the same reversed in the evening… the rythym of commercial life was visited by regular disruption in the guise of industrial ‘action’ (what a misnomer.. should be ‘inaction’)… the good toilers at British Rail had the wonderful sense of timing we all adore and admire, by calling frequent strikes, usually at prime inconvenience… commuters’ ‘Plan B’ involved rising at least another hour earlier in the morning and tramping down to bus termini, hoping to grab a seat for the tortoise trail via an overwhelmed road system into the City… but, yeez well appreciate, from all negativity, there often comes virtue… I took to reading novels to while away the journeys… Authors I had never discovered until then became my bus-mates… John Steinbeck, John O’Hara, and Robert Ruark prime among these… and what rich literature they wrote… Steinbeck’s East of Eden, The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and MenMaster O’Hara chipped in with From The Terrace, Ten North Frederick, and A Rage to Live… and the Ruark fella produced The Honey Badger, Poor No More, and Uhuru… if yeez have any notion to treat yourselves to majestic novels, these fill the bill admirably… all yeez have to do is petition British Rail Unions to arrange a few wee strikes for yeez… and make sure yer bus ticket season passes are up to date… see yeez later… LUV YEEZ

Steinbeck                                                                                                                                                                O’Hara

steinbecko'hararuark                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Ruark


Filed under Blether, Scribbling & Stuff