O'Hara UnFriends Gill

LOA Befriends Pal Joey
Exeter, England
The Library of America has just published John O'Hara's libretto for Pal Joey in a two-volume collection called American Musicals, edited by Laurence Maslon.
I'm delighted, having waited for it for more than fifty years. I was afraid Wilie O'Hara Dalaney, O'Hara's daughter, was going to give the rights to the Richard Greenberg rewrite; but it's the real thing, all right. It also marks O'Hara's first appearance in LOA.

Incidentally, I read John Updike's New Yorker review of The Art of Burning Bridges. A terrific corrective of O'Hara's taciturn image, as well as of his feud with Brendan Gill. Apparently the break with the magazine had little to do with Gill's A Rage to Live review; O'Hara asked to be paid for stories the magazine rejected.
Mr. New Yorker
[WritersClearinghouse News Service]
Brendan Gill was ten years younger than O'Hara, but his level of production -- sheer wattage in words contributed to The New Yorker -- probably exceeded John O'Hara's output. Gill wrote fiction, drama, film, and architecture reviews, comment, and profiles. Short of Harold Ross and William Shawn, Gill was 'Mr. New Yorker.' That distinction wasn't lost on O'Hara; it was probably enough to put him on O'Hara's very long enemies list.

Putting O'Hara's enmity over the top was Gill's negative of review in The New Yorker of O'Hara's blockbusterA Rage to Live. Their relationship was already testy. Gill wore his Irish gently. O'Hara did not. Gill's Yale education and Scull & Bones membership came to him naturally. O'Hara was always striving for Ivy-covered totems and Establishment acceptance.

From the short story "The Locomobile." (1963)

Shortly after getting out of the army in 1919, George Denison gave - gave - his mother's Locomobile limousine to Arthur Gow, who had been the lady's chauffeur. The car was a beauty, purer in line than the Pierce-Arrows and Packards that were generally chosen by women like Mrs. Denison. It was painted Brewster green, and it was the only one of its kind in the county. It had less than 15,000 miles on the odometer, six new Pennsylvania Vacuum cups to replace the original tires, and it would have fetched five thousand dollars in a trade-in if George Denison had wanted to bargain. But his mother had neglected to mention Arthur Gow in her will - she had never got around to it in the years since the will had been drawn up - and George Denison wanted to do something for Arthur.

Posted by Robert Saliba

Grace Tate's First Appearance

July 4, 1917.  The Old Caldwell Place. Fort Penn, Pennsylvania.

   The woman beside him on the steps was in a blue-and-white muslin Red Cross canteen uniform. She was slightly taller than the fashion of the day and would have been still taller if she had not been wearing "sensible" heels. At first she seemed to be achieving chic without departing from strict uniform, and with no jewelry but a plain gold wedding band and a Tiffany-setting engagement ring, but on her wrist was a man's watch chain, wrapped twice around and with a small collegiate charm dangling from it, and under the band of her nurse cap her widow's peak was showing, and it directed attention down to her black-brown eyes. She was thirty-four years old . . .

From A Rage to Live (1949).

Sidney Tate

July 4, 1917 - The Caldwell Farm, Fort Penn, Pa:

At the crouching sound of the wheels on the gravel, the double screen-door was opened and a man and a woman waited for the Governor and his lady.

   The man was almost completely bald, darkly tanned and with large, strong teeth. He was slender, sparsely built, and he appeared to be shorter than he was. He was wearing a Norfolk jacket, white flannels, white buckskins (now grass-stained), a soft white shirt with a gold safety-pin in the collar and a striped necktie. A white linen handkerchief was tucked in the panel of his jacket, and as the car came to a stop he knocked his pipe empty and from habit rubbed the warm bowl on the side of his nose before dropping the pipe in his pocket. He was forty, a friendly, unsuspicious man, accustomed to being liked. He had a long history of regular meals, none ever missed except by choice, and of good digestion and fifteen thousand baths.

From A Rage to Live (1949).

Posted by Robert Saliba

Another July 4th

   It rained lightly on the morning of Wednesday, July 4, 1917, and the Festival Committee met to decide whether to postpone the Festival until the following Saturday. It was argued that Saturday was a better day than Wednesday, even if Wednesday did happen to be the Fourth. It was also argued by some of the Fort Penn businessmen that if the Festival was postponed until Saturday the merchants would be losing two and a half days that week: Wednesday, the Fourth; the regular Thursday half holiday which the Merchants Association had decreed upon themselves; and now Saturday.

   "The question is," said one committee member, "are we running this thing for the merchants or for the Red Cross? . . . "

  From A Rage to Live (1949)

Summer Meeting Update

The John O'Hara Society Summer meeting is scheduled for Sunday, June 22 in Philadelphia, PA.

Pals will meet for lunch, business and conversation between 12:30 PM and 1:00 at the Irish Pub, 2007 Walnut Street.  The meeting will officially begin at 1:00.

For those who are local or staying in town through the evening, we will also have an "after event," beginning at 7:00 PM.  Pals will meet at the Barnes & Noble cafe at 19th and Walnut, on the 2nd floor.  From there we will head to another venue for drinks, food and conversation, probably the Pen and Pencil Club. 

If you are planning to attend the lunch, please RSVP to Robert Knott at knottrg [at] hotmail [dot] com or Richard Carreno at writersclearinghouse [at] yahoo [dot] com.

Those planning to attend the after event can text Richard at 215 908 4375 the day of to confirm their plans or with any questions.

O'Hara and Capote

  • Strange Bedfellows
    By Charles McGrath
    The New York Times | May 16, 2014

    It would be hard to think of two writers less alike — stylistically and, for that matter, personally — than Truman Capote and John O’Hara, yet they shared many pre­occupations. Both were fascinated by society high and low, by how people climbed or toppled from one rank to the other, and by how sex and money underpinned the entire system. “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” Capote’s charming 1958 novella about a self-invented cafe society girl and the admiring writer who lives upstairs, is set during World War II. Most of the stories assembled in the recent Penguin anthology of O’Hara’s New York stories were written in either the ’30s or the ’60s, but some are set decades earlier. And yet in the newly released audio recordings of the two books, maybe even more than on the page, the versions of New York that are evoked seem virtually interchangeable: It’s a city of people on the make or else clinging to their former reputations, where everyone drinks too much, and where you can easily wake up in bed next to someone you barely remember meeting.
    Listening to Capote and O’Hara back to back, in fact, you have to concentrate to keep the characters in one recording from wandering into your recollections of the other, and from picturing Capote’s Holly Golightly, for example — who once had a future in the movies and now pays the rent by accepting financial favors from men — showing up at “21” on the arm of one of O’Hara’s fast-talking Hollywood producers. And that young couple who make a living from hosting creepy sex parties — it may take a moment to recall that they turn up not at one of Golightly’s parties but in the deeply strange O’Hara story “A Phase of Life.”
    O’Hara is now somewhat neglected and under­appreciated, and the print version of the New York anthology, edited by Steven Goldleaf, with a foreword by E. L. Doctorow, is part of a welcome Penguin effort to reissue his work in paperback. (I wrote the introduction to the new edition of O’Hara’s first novel, “Appointment in Samarra.”) But even readers familiar with O’Hara may be surprised by how many of these stories involve not his Park Avenue types but people in show business: agents, producers, writers, actors, many of them alcoholic has-beens. This is a world O’Hara knew well from his early days as a press agent, and like much of his best work, the stories have the tang of genuine observation and ­reporting.

    Save the Date: Summer Meeting

    The John O'Hara Society will hold its summer meeting in Philadelphia, PA on June 22, 2014.

    Details on time and location will be posted soon.

    If you are planning to attend, please RSVP to the society email address or knottrg [at] hotmail [dot] com.

    Pottsville Recollects and Collects

    Local Society Adds
    O'Hara Artifacts to Collection
    By Stephen J. Pytak
    In June 1954, noted author John O'Hara sent a thank-you card from his home in Princeton, N.J., to a friend in Times Square, New York.
    "Your kind expression of sympathy is gratefully acknowledged and deeply appreciated," O'Hara said. Below the typed words, O'Hara wrote his signature in blue.
    George S. Lord, 66, of Pottsville, an antiques collector fascinated with local history, acquired the card and its envelope in his travels. On Friday, he donated it to the Schuylkill County Historical Society, Pottsville.
    "I think this is right after his wife died," Lord said.
    According to the book "The O'Hara Concern: A Biography of John O'Hara" by Matthew J. Bruccoli, O'Hara's wife, Belle Mulford Wylie O'Hara, died in January 1954.
    According to Peter Yasenchak, director of research at the Schuylkill County Historical Society, the card is part of that chapter of O'Hara's life.
    "That's exactly what it is," Yasenchak said.
    Last month, the society started a collection of artifacts related to O'Hara, the Pottsville native who wrote popular novels including "Appointment in Samarra," published in 1934, and "Butterfield 8," published in 1935.
    Born in Pottsville, Jan. 31, 1905, O'Hara moved to New York City in 1928. He died in his home in Princeton, N.J., on April 11, 1970, according to www.ExplorePAHistory.com.
    The Schuylkill County Historical Society started its O'Hara collection in March when it received a letter O'Hara typed on the eve of 1961 to an editor at the Allentown Call-Chronicle Newspapers. In that letter, O'Hara offered his memories of a Pottsville native, a pianist named Helen Foley.
    It was donated by the Sylvia Fenstermacher Lawler Foundation for the Arts Fund, which is managed by the Lehigh Valley Community Foundation.
    That letter has since been framed and now hangs in the Genealogy and Research Room at the society's 305 N. Centre St. headquarters.
    On Friday, Lord presented a few more O'Hara collectibles to the society.
    They included a photo of O'Hara taken on Oct. 9, 1962, and published by LIFE Magazine, a 1955 hardcover first printing of the O'Hara novel "Ten North Frederick," and a 1960 hardcover first printing of the novel "Sermons and Soda-Water Volume II: Imagine Kissing Pete."
    "I always tried to collect first editions," Lord said.
    Thomas B. Drogalis, executive director of the Schuylkill County Historical Society, and J. Robert Zane, vice president of the society's board of directors, were also present to accept the donations.
    Yasenchak said he'd like to see these O'Hara collectibles, in particular the items that include his signature, put in a display case.
    Lord also donated something else to the society not related to O'Hara, a bank note for $600 written out April 6, 1874.
    A check printed by the "Miners Trust Company Bank of Pottsville," it was written out to "James W. Nagle." He was the son of one of Pottsville's 19th century military legends, Gen. James A. Nagle, according to Lord.
    "He was an advertising agent for Philadelphia Insurance," Lord said of James W. Nagle.
    He couldn't recall how he acquired it: "I've been collecting for years, anything historical. I knew who Nagle was. I saw this was his son."
    Yasenchak saluted Lord for his efforts to collect historical items.
    "When he collects, he knows what he has because he takes the time to have the items labeled," Yasenchak said, pointing to notes Lord made on the back of the framed check.