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100 Greatest Novels: Appointment in Samarra & U.S.A. (Trilogy)

Here are two more titles from the 100 Greatest Novels. Sorry for the wait, the U.S.A. Trilogy took a while to get through. Enjoy:

200px-Appointment_in_SamarraAppointment in Samarra by John O’Hara

This was a short novel that packs a lot of punch (sorry for the cliche!). The events unfold in about 36 hours that start with a drink thrown in someone’s face and ends in the complete demise of a character. Although the time period of events are short, the novel flashbacks to numerous stories: the history of a character’s love-life, of other characters’ married life, etc. Sometimes I’d be annoyed by the disruption of the story but ultimately all the flashbacks add to the overall novel. The writing style is similar to The Great Gatsby with O’Hara’s language being more heavily influenced by the time period (1930s). This might be the reason for this novel not being as popular as Gatsby is today.

200px-JpassosbookU.S.A. by John Dos Passos

Consisting of The 42nd Parallel, 1919, and The Big Money, this trilogy is a sprawling epic of America at the beginning of the 20th century. The books contain four narrative styles: fictional narratives following different characters from each of their point of views; the “Newsreel” that consists of newspaper clippings, headlines, and song lyrics; biographies of major historical figures like Teddy Roosevelt and the Wright brothers; and the “Camera Eye,” which are autobiographical scenes written in a stream of consciousness. The fictional stories are all intertwined and give you an emotional and deep understanding of the different walks of life people experienced at the turn of the century. The other three sections just give you an historical background for the story to fit in with a few exceptions: one of the biographical sections emotionally describes the first tomb of the unknown soldier after the first World War and one “Camera Eye” gives you a stark and depressing look at the execution of Sacco and Vanzetti and people’s response to it. Anyways, large undertaking (my copy was right at 1240 pages) but even larger reward. Great read.

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I’ll be taking a short break before the next few novels. I need to focus on my current job search in Houston. That said, know of any job openings in Houston? Thanks!

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Posted by on February 28, 2013 in 100 Greatest Novels, Book Review, Literature

 

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