Monday, 28 November 2016

John O'Hara, drunken lout. (Frank MacShane, Biography)


To steal Yeats’s phrase O’Hara was a ‘drunken, vainglorious lout’, a bully, a snob, a slapper of women – hard, and of course for the only reason we do not allow him to drift into grateful disrememberance, a fine writer. I’m reading along with his stories which were selected by Frank MacShane the biography also written by him. When with his early success he had the money to travel to Europe he was hospitably received in literary circles in London but his behaviour soon burned away that good will. His life seems to proceed from one smoking ruin to another. Back in Pottsville his mother was genteely impoverished but our boy partied on. Bad son, bad husband, promiscuous and willing to share his feats of venery. He shouted after a man leaving a club with an ex-girlfriend:
- I slept with that woman
- Well, I’m going to sleep with her tonight.
was the reply

As I was reading about his London months I thought – here’s a chance for you to visit the old sod but I bethought myself when I considered how his pure Irish roots were the great impediment to rising in the world of Pottsville and how much he resented that. Too painful a reminder for the exquisite sensibility of O’Hara.

This is where I am now. What did he do in the war - Man the batteries in the Hollywood Hills, defend it to the last roll of film?

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