John O'Hara: Sermons and Soda-Water

(1355 words)
  • Steven Goldleaf

The narrator of all three intertwined novellas in this collection is a middle-aged writer named James Malloy, who narrates much of John O'Hara's most intensely personal fiction and who is plainly O'Hara's fictional alter-ego. Originally appearing in “The Doctor's Son”, an all-but-explicitly autobiographical short story written in the early 1930s, Malloy recurred in O'Hara's first three novels as a minor character, a major character, or as the narrator, but disappeared entirely from O'Hara's work for over a decade beginning in 1949, when he broke with the New Yorker magazine, his main publishing market, over a lukewarm review of a novel. Throughout the 1950s, O'Hara, whose reputation as the inventor of the archetypal

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Goldleaf, Steven. "Sermons and Soda-Water". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 09 November 2009
[, accessed 06 July 2015.]