The Philadelphia Inquirer has a lengthy piece on the current affection that
PottstownPottsville, Penn., has for native son John O’Hara, who skewered the town’s polite sensibilities in his 1934 novel, Appointment in Samarra. Back then the book was only grudgingly held at the town library, behind the front desk. But 75 years will cool the anger folks feel toward a book—it’s certainly enough time for the people most directly affronted to likely pass on—and the story argues that since the novel made the Modern Library’s list of 100 greatest novels in 1998, O’Hara has enjoyed the respect usually bestowed on a town father, with a statue, themed street signs, symposia, and more. (The Pottsville Republican-Herald, digging deep, uncovers how often O’Hara’s most popular books have been checked out of the Pottsville library since 1998. Samarra has been checked out 67 times.)
One of the main sources in the Inquirer story is Erica Ramus, a real-estate agent who’s assembled an O’Hara-themed walking tour of Pottsville. “O’Hara didn’t sugarcoat things,” she tells the paper. “He told it like he saw it. He wrote his stories like he was writing a news story, not some fancy piece of fiction with a lot of metaphors.” That is, setting aside the biggest fancy piece of symbolism in the book—the title, taken from Somerset Maugham‘s short story, in which the appointment is with death.