Appointment in Samarra

Posted by ESC on October 08, 2004

Getting Junior's Goat

Published: October 7, 2004
New York Times
ow strange that George W. Bush had his appointment in Samarra: his commanders taking a stand against the relentless Iraqi insurgents, trying once more to turn the corner in a war with endless corners.

Mr. Bush is reminiscent of the protagonist of "Appointment in Samarra," by John O'Hara - Julian English, the son of a WASP-y, aristocratic, renowned, ineffectual father. Julian's pals were "the spenders and drinkers and socially secure, who could thumb their noses and not have to answer to anyone except their own families."

Bristling with filial tension and nurturing the chip on his privileged shoulder, the son refuses to follow in the proper father's footsteps and instead engages in, as John Updike put it, "impulsive bellicosity," falling into a self-destructive spiral that starts when he throws a drink into an ally's face at the club.

O'Hara prefaced the novel, his most brilliant, with a quotation from Somerset Maugham about the futility of using a reverse playbook to avoid your fate: The servant of a Baghdad merchant runs into Death at the marketplace and gallops off as fast as he can to Samarra, thinking Death will not find him. But, it turns out, their appointment is not for Baghdad on that day, but for Samarra that night... 2004/10/07/opinion/07dowd.html
Accessed Oct. 7, 2004