Books: Overexposure

THE BIG LAUGH (308 pp.)—John O'Hara—Random House ($4.95).

After turning out two volumes of excellent short stories (Sermons and Soda-Water, Assembly), Novelist John O'Hara let it be known that his next work was to be something really massive, surpassing even such weighty tomes as Ten North Frederick in length but embodying the crisp authority he seems lately to have lost in the piling up of documentary detail. But plainly, The Big Laugh is not it. For a mercy, it is shorter. For a pity, it is perhaps O'Hara's worst book. In its account of Hollywood in the 1920s and '30s, trifles are...

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