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BUtterfield 8 by John O'Hara


It was a sordid affair.

Speakeasies, promiscuity, infidelity and taxis; mink coats, intoxication and manipulation all are featured prominently in prolific author John O'Hara's New York melodrama BUtterfield 8. Published in 1935, the story revolves around promiscuous Gloria and the ripples and effects caused by her taking a mink coat from the closet of a married man's apartment after spending the night.

Gloria spends her time stumbling from speakeasy to speakeasy in 1931 Manhattan while contemplating the consequences of marriage, motherhood and how predictable Yale boys are! (The opposite of Fitzgerald's Princeton from This Side of Paradise--in fact, F. Scott Fitzgerald almost haunts this novel and his influence is apparent.)

The novel may seem dated to some readers, but if you want good, raw writing from an author as familiar with a speakeasy as he was with the offices of The New Yorker (O'Hara was a frequent short story contributor), give this book a try. My favorite part is a long rant about how to make a good martini! The title refers to Gloria's answering service number; she was, not to put too fine a point on it, a very popular girl. Make sure you read the informative introduction by Fran Lebowitz that appears in The Modern Library edition.

Dan @ Central

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