Books: Tragedy Off Stage

HOPE or HEAVEN—John O'Hara—Harcourt, Brace ($2.50).

John O'Hara's first two novels impressed critics for two reasons. They revealed his command of native dialect and his willingness to enter into the minds of recognizable U. S. types to see what made them tick. Thus, in Appointment in Samarra, he explored the consciousness of a Pennsylvania Cadillac dealer who committed suicide; in Butter field 8, the crossed-up life of a New York speakeasy girl who had better reasons for letting herself go.

What made these people destroy themselves? Author O'Hara did not so much solve...

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