Books: The Middle Depths

SERMONS AND SODA-WATER (3 vols., totaling 328 pp.)—John O'Hara—Random House ($5.95).

This collection of three related novellas is John O'Hara's best work in years. The stories remind one strongly of the author's early novels, and not only because the suicide of Julian English, the hero of Appointment in Samarra, is an offstage incident in one of them. The prose has the great clarity of all of O'Hara's writing, and an economy of expression that he has seemed afraid to trust in such vast recent novels as From the Terrace and Ten North Frederick.

Attractive Reticence. In his preface, O'Hara mentions the weight...

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