Ten North Frederick Kindle Ð Ten North Kindle -

Ten North Frederick Ten North Frederick won the national book award in 1956 I touched on it in my blog It's a book I've always wanted to read but it wasn't easy John O'Hara wrote it with no chapters and long paragraphs What was fascinating about this story was how well he depicted the characters in this small town and their political manoeuvrings As the American election of 2012 just took place I found what went on back in the 1930s mirrored what went on today Politics is a dirty business and John O'Hara showed some of its complexity As well he is frank on sexual matters and my understanding is that he was taken to task for the way he did this back in the 50s which were considerably repressed than the age we're living in now John O'Hara's Ten North Frederick started off by reminding me of a nighttime soap opera like Dallas or Knotts' Landing and uickly unraveled into a fascinating psychologicalsociological novel about a small town Gibbsville in the state of Pennsylvania during the 1920's30's and 40's A town run by the Republican Party where old money was really old money dating back to before the Civil War and the Jazz Age that F Scott Fitzgerald wrote about in New York never materialized in this small townThis was the first novel I have ever read by Mr O'Hara but it won't be the last Truly an amazing piece of writing This is the story of a family of the 'best' people living in Gibbsville Pa Three generations of the Chapin family are portrayed with intimacy and uncompromising clarity Many other people at all levels of the social ladder are portrayed as well and what they do and say to one another is often shocking John O'Hara is a literary descendant of Sinclair Lewis If you like that brand of naturalism then I highly recommend Ten North Frederick O'Hara considered part of a novelist's job to be a social historian so the novel is filled with significant and perhaps not so significant minutiae of life in Gibbsville PA based on O'Hara's hometown Pottsville from the 1880s to the 1940s reading which approaches tedium I say approaches because a very engaging ironic humor is always just below the surface One also gradually realizes the presence of an affecting concern for decency and the value of genuine love and friendshipThe heart of the story is the life of Benjamin Chapin who aspires to be President of the United States a man born with a silver spoon in his mouth who learns too late that he has sidestepped the real sources of happinessThe book is worth reading because we're all confronted with the same danger and O'Hara brings the harsh and poignant reality of this situation home with his convincing hard edged realism Oh what a delicious book This classic novel written in 1955 but taking place over a 60 year span that is primarily in the early 1900s focuses on the three generations of the Chapin family who reside in the fictional town of Gibbsville Pennsylvania The book has very little plot but the characters are so deeply developed that you feel as if you know them from their likes and dislikes personality uirks and even sexual proclivities You'll want to keep reading not to find out what happens but to find out what the characters do next Joe has ambitions to be president of the United States his hoity toity wife Edith has two sex secrets she's keeping from her husband and finally confesses one of them late in life daughter Ann is hustled off to boarding school after a threesome sex incident in a delivery truck which is only the first of her sexcapades that embarrass her family and son Joby is a rebellious mess at least in the eyes of his parents Oh yes and perfect gentleman and upstanding citizen Joe has a mistress and the one night affair is both heartwarming and shocking As I said delicious It's a great fun read An absorbing compulsively readable novel which at slightly over 400 pages moves or less like lightning It won the National Book Award in 1956 and remains relevant in the way it explores the human and the American condition Thanks to Dan Leo O'Hara has recently become a favorite of mine I can't offhand think of that many writers who have uite the ear for spoken language that O'Hara has He not only unerringly captures the way people really talk but he imbues that ability with the necessary component of pinpointing essential character definition It is also often startling what O'Hara understands about the recesses of people's mindsAs well at least in this novel O'Hara reveals a microscopic understanding of the class of people he displays In minute detail he knows how they think and how they operate 'Ten North Frederick' may be a novel about a bygone era but it is not particularly dated Yes we have moved on from certain ideas about propriety but to a large extent people today still behave as they do within the pages of this book especially when it comes to such issues as social advancement and loyalty the latter seeming to be the novel's overriding theme The novel's protagonist the rich and respected lawyer Joe Chapin believes that the road to his dream of becoming a US President will not be all that rocky if he remains true to what he knows about people But he's in for a rude awakening life particularly in the world of politics unravels pinball games that Chapin has not had the opportunity to learn 'TNF' is populated with a large number of personalities Though the emphasis is on the moneyed O'Hara is adept at delineating various class divides class styles and class maneuverings I have rarely come across a writer whose short stories have uite the power of O'Hara's But even top notch short story writers can have difficulty elevating literary accomplishments from small ones to large ones 'TNF' is in a way a novel comprised of a large number of inter linked short stories episodic snapshots that nevertheless solidify as one solid piece This is a uiet novel of a social class a family and a man on the decline The Chapin family has held a position of prominence occupying the large house on prime realist ate served by a loyal team of servants holding places of great significance in the political economic and social arenas of their communities As the novel opens in 1945 Joe Chapin is being buried with the pomp that a man of his standing deserves But as O’Hara retraces the family history and Joe’s life in particular the facade is dismantled brick by brick to reveal the rot the decline that makes it clear that not only has Joe passed away but so has this social order and this once great family This novel deserves its literary recognition The characters are carefully crafted the turn of the century town is well portrayed the brokenness is shown with nuance But this is a very slow novel focused on character development including the character of the town of Gibbsville than on plot And the pace is slowed further by O’Hara’s tendency to be a bit wordy In the end the book dragged for me to the point that I lost interest That may say about my mind set than about the book Although it was a 35 star read for me it deserves to be rounded up to 4 stars Who thinks they can and should be president Joe Chapin does Why He's born rich went to an Ivy League College now is a successful lawyer in high society and free from scandal He hates FDR refers to him as our friend and wants to run on a conservative platform to bring America back to its former glory O'Hara tells the story of 3 generations of a wealthy small town family He explores wealth and social status is that all it takes to be president and gives a panorama of small town early 20th century life He has a reporter style but it's his characters who share their observations and the meticulous details of their lives two characters reflect that not too many homes have speaking tubes any a doctor describes the physical changes of cirrhosis back room politics is not implied it's shown O'Hara doesn't say a character is fat he tells you the character's weight and height he doesn't use euphemisms or hyperbole to describe a character's drinking habits he tells you that a character had two martini's at lunch three before dinner and then 3 after dinnerand after a few years they became double martinisO'Hara's stories come off as history and this gives the observations on aging society relationships the weight of a truth Annie Dilliard said how we spend our days is of course how we spend our lives O'Hara would expand that thought to include the small details offhand conversations the hardly noticed trinkets that have been in our kitchen for the past 20 years and ultimately these details not only make up our lives but our communities neighborhoods towns and country The title refers to the main character's address a part of town once fashionable but now becoming defuncta full cycle that concluded almost 100 years ago We are not outside observers in these stories we recognize we are part of similar cycle and these stories help us recognize our placeSometimes O'Hara as narrator comes off as someone who enjoys being too revealing or revels in a reputation to shock But overall an enjoyable readI've come to the conclusion that the safest way to live is first inherit money Second marry a woman that will cooperate in your sexual peculiarities Third have a legitimate job that keeps you busy Fourth be born without the taste for liuor Fifth join some big church Sixth don't live to longSeventh figuratively speaking carry a rabbit's foot I came to this novel having seen the 1957 film version and being intrigued with the film and wondering how faithful it was to the novel I was surprised to find that the core of the film was not the main body of the novel but only covered the final thirty pages or so Yet this was no disappointment I'd not read O'Hara before but I will read This is a rather wonderful novel encompassing decades in the life of the central figure Joe Chapin a well to do Pennsylvania lawyer The novel told in one 390 page chapter and one 18 page one skips around chronologically but always fluidly organically as if the characters and time periods were taking turns with the story It is filled with rich characters some spectacular writing and sometimes that writing reaches the level of magnificence It is filled with insights into the wealthy of a middling sized city in the first half of the twentieth century and some of O'Hara's descriptions of political thought could have been written today In the end it made me care deeply about the sort of man one might not particularly care for It is a real work of art expressed with a wry poetry and an unblinking eye I finished 10 North Frederick 1956 this morning on the train to work and I have mixed emotions about this novel On the one hand it is very much a John O'Hara plot with his penchant for sparkling collouial dialog among its many characters It is a novel set in his fictional Gibbsville Pennsylvania modeled after his own hometown of Pottsville On the other hand for a novel that was awarded the National Book Award in 1956 my birth year I felt that the primary protagonist Joe Chapin was really pretty one dimensional; particularly for a fundamentally flawed individual who develops a desire to run for the presidency of the United States In retrospect it may well have been O'Hara's intent to portray Joe Chapin in this light but I found myself throughout the novel to be much interested in Joe's wife Edith and daughter Ann as well as several other charactersSimply put Joseph Benjamin Chapin was safe maybe too safe Very much a methodical and entirely predictable 'Felix Unger' type of character who worked diligently his entire life to provide for his family and to keep his real feelings and emotions in check The I think about it this may be exactly the message that O'Hara is trying to convey through the novel that this behavior was dangerous and even unhealthy He contrasts this with Joe's wife Edith who starts out as much like her husband and who is seemingly only interested in social climbing in the small Gibbsville society Edith does begin to learn over time that life does need to be fully experienced But it is through Joe and Edith's daughter Ann that we see a fully fleshed out character that has a genuine and honest lust for Life Ann it seems to me is the one that ends up teaching both of her parents the most about what life can be or should be aboutFrankly after writing this review I am perhaps coming to realize that there might just be to this novel than I initially thought and that maybe I need to give it some thought and another read sometime soon and see if there is to the story and moral of Joe Chapin's life in John O'Hara's 10 North Frederick For the time being however this novel gets 35 stars of 5Finally it is becoming interesting to me how novels are selected for various literary awards For example when looking at John O'Hara's prodigious output of fiction I am mystified that novels like Appointment in Samarra BUtterfield 8 A Rage to Live From the Terrace or even Elizabeth Appleton didn't receive any awards In my humble opinion each of these novels is arguably better than 10 North Frederick but what do I know


About the Author: John O'Hara

John Henry O'Hara was an American writer born in Pottsville Pennsylvania He initially became known for his short stories and later became a best selling novelist whose works include Appointment in Samarra and BUtterfield 8 He was particularly known for an uncannily accurate ear for dialogue O'Hara was a keen observer of social status and class differences and wrote freuently about the social


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