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BUtterfield 8: A Novel by John O'Hara

BUtterfield 8: A Novel (1935)

by John O'Hara

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Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
An interesting book that tells the tale of Gloria Wandrous and her life. The time is 1930, post stock market crash, the depression is looming and speakeasies are the place to be. Gloria is a young woman who the narrator describes would have been a flapper had she been born a mere ten years earlier.

This is a sad tale, no one seems particularly happy or successful. There are people with money, but there are also men cheating on their wives, getting beaten up in bars, a high probability of alcoholism...Ahh, New York City in the 1930s.

Definitely an interesting read! ( )
  csweder | Jul 8, 2014 |
Complex exploration of the life of a young woman who chooses a life of sexual freedom in the 1930s. Through a kaleidoscopic mixture of the kinds of techniques that novelists were exploring in the first third of the century (flash backs, quick cross cuts from scene to scene, stream of consciousness) O'Hara turns what could have been a sensationalistic shocker into a complicated psychological story. While largely sympathetic to the Gloria in her complicated relationship to sexuality and the men in her life, the conventions of the period require retribution, which comes horribly and gruesomely in the end. ( )
1 vote sjnorquist | Jul 3, 2014 |
Wow, is this book ever tedious. The back cover blurb claims that the first scene unleashes a chain of events that can only result in tragedy, so I kept reading to the end in the hope that this meant something would actually happen, but it never really did. I mean, sure, I suppose the death of a character could be considered tragic, but only if the reader had any emotional investment in the life of that character. Which I did not. ( )
1 vote melydia | Oct 12, 2013 |
BUtterfield 8 is based on a true story. In this novel O’Hara tries to imagine what that young girl’s life might have been like. Gloria Wandrous is a party girl, familiar with the speakeasies and clubs of 1920s New York City. She falls in with a married man and spends one night at his apartment—after which she steals his wife’s fur coat. The theft leads to tragedy.

I liked the idea of the novel, but I thought it was confusing and illogical in several places; I agree with a previous reviewer who said that the relationship between Gloria and Weston Liggett didn’t seem believable. The relationship started too quickly and seemed less like a relationship and more like lust/physical attraction; I didn’t buy for a second that he was in love with her.

The tone of the novel feels very frenetic and sex-charged, probably due to the intensity of Gloria’s personality and the suddenness of her friendship with Liggett. I found that I really didn’t care for her too much; she was too self-absorbed and too attached to physical pleasure to be truly likeable. O’Hara also introduced some characters who seem to be completely superfluous to the whole point of the book. I also thought that the ending of the book was a let-down; the author builds his reader up for something much more interesting and all we get is… disappointment. The premise is good, though. ( )
1 vote Kasthu | Sep 9, 2012 |
I liked the book but struggled in the early parts trying to keep track of who was who and what the connections between them were.....fascinating depiction of the culture of this social set in NY in the period.......the dialogue made it seem quite real. The story line however, left a little to be desired, especially with respect to seemingly casual acquaintances morphing immediately into major life-altering emotional situations with drastic life-changes occurring as a result....it was very hard to wrap my head around this notion of 'true love' between Gloria and Weston, (passion or infatuation, yes, true-love - no!) not because of their age difference necessarily (although that did not help) but because their brief initial interaction would never have led to such intense responses....maybe over time it could have been believable but not in this short time span.....I've got a ton more O'hara on the shelf, so we'll see how this stacks up to the others. Oh, and as is always the case, titles intrigue me.....any ideas as to why this one was chosen??? ( )
  jeffome | Mar 6, 2010 |
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Note that the title refers to a telephone exchange, so the "u" is properly capitalized in the Canonical Title as BUtterfield.
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Book description
A story of hookers and wealthy alcoholics in early 1930s New York city, and the self-destructive lives they lead.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0812966988, Paperback)

A bestseller upon its publication in 1935, BUtterfield 8 was inspired by a news account of the discovery of the body of a beautiful young woman washed up on a Long Island beach. Was it an accident, a murder, a suicide? The circumstances of her death were never resolved, but O’Hara seized upon the tragedy to imagine the woman’s down-and-out life in New York City in the early 1930s.

“O’Hara understood better than any other American writer how class can both reveal and shape character,” Fran Lebowitz writes in her Introduction. With brash honesty and a flair for the unconventional, BUtterfield 8 lays bare the unspoken and often shocking truths that lurked beneath the surface of a society still reeling from the effects of the Great Depression. The result is a masterpiece of American fiction.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:04 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

"A bestseller upon its publication in 1935, BUtterfield 8 was inspired by a news account of the discovery of the body of a beautiful young woman washed up on a Long Island beach. Was it an accident, a murder, a suicide? The circumstances of her death were never resolved, but O'Hara seized upon the tragedy to imagine the woman's down-and-out life in New York City in the early 1930s."--P. [4] of cover.… (more)

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Average: (3.44)
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