BUtterfield 8 Paperback – Apr 1 2003
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“A man who knows exactly what he is writing about and has written it marvelously well.” —Ernest Hemingway
From the Back Cover
“A man who knows exactly what he is writing about and has written it marvelously well.” —Ernest HemingwaySee all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
Gloria is what used to be called "damaged goods"óunderneath her brittle shell and drunken pain, she is smart, kind and caring. Despite these fine qualities, she's emotionally unequipped to deal with true love and tries to run away from it, as she does from everything else. On the first page we learn that she will meet an unhappy ending, and then the story begins with Gloria waking in the apartment of her latest one-night stand and walking out with the man's wife's fur coat. This spur of the moment decision has a series of repercussions, which play out over the next few days as a whole slew of characters intersect and the threads of the simple plot are brought together.Read more ›
O'Hara sets the book in the early 1930's in New York City. He focuses his sharp powers of observation on the "speakeasy" class of New York: those individuals with still enough wealth to spend time in illegal bars drinking their worries away. At first, you think "ah, these are the beautiful people." Of course, soon you realize that these individuals are anything but beautiful.
The heroine, or anti-heroine, Gloria, is a beautiful, young woman of loose morals and some inherited wealth. She is smart-we're told she could have gone to Smith-and underneath everything, kind. But sexual abuse early on triggered a rampant promiscuity.
O'Hara specializes in delineating the subtle class differences-the Catholics who went to Yale as opposed to the Wasps-that existed at this time. He structures class systems in his novels as rigidly as any Brahmin.
I would recommend this book for individuals who enjoy contemporary fiction, particularly books set in New York that depict wealthy, beautiful people. (If you like Fitzgerald, you'll like this book.) Both men and women can enjoy this book-as Fran Leibowitz says in her introduction, "it's a young man's book" in many ways.
I would not recommend this book for individuals who dislike "dated" fiction (though this book is surprising fresh in many ways) or books that verge on melodrama.
One note about the Leibowitz's introduction: I found it excellent. She has some acute observations-sex is an animal desire, the perception of it human and changing according to mores in vogue-that have stayed with me.
BUtterfield 8 is a roman a clef (based on a real incident) and you can see why the story appealed to him. On June 8, 1931, the dead body of a young woman named Starr Faithfull--no seriously, her name was Starr Faithfull--was found on Long Beach, Long Island. Subsequent reporting uncovered a life of easy morals and much time spent in speakeasies and such piquant details as her childhood molestation by a former mayor of Boston. Despite rumors of political motives for her murder and a supposed secret diary, no one was ever charged in her death.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
I picked up this book knowing nothing about it, and I have to say it was a real stroke of luck. This book gives a totally honest view of New York society in the 1930's. Read morePublished on July 30 2000 by M. E. Price
This is a great book -- it combines gritty realism with trashy romance and John O'Hara's writing style is superb. Read morePublished on July 9 2000
I wish I had been a literature major instead of a mathematics major so I could express my appreciation of John O'Hara's writing in the proper literature terms. Read morePublished on May 19 2000 by Common Sense ViewPoint
I just read this book on my way home from office and whenever I read,it gives me wider view of US in 1930s. I still have long way to go to finish reading this book. Read morePublished on Jan. 20 2000