Three Forgettable Novellas in Sermons and Soda Water

Sermons and Soda Water is a three-volume set of  novellas that John O’Hara wrote while working on a big novel.

Each story is told by a writer from Gibbsville, Pa. (O’Hara’s hometown) who has gone on to bigger places, bigger things.  In middle age, each of the writers looks back with a combination of nostalgia and remorse to his youth in the years between Prohibition and Pearl Harbor.

The first novella, The Girl on the Baggage Truck, explores the difference between the kinds of things that matter to people and the facts that appear in their obituaries.

The second, Imagine Kissing Pete, is about a girl who marries on the rebound and discovers the wimp has a totally unexpected savage sexuality.

The third, We’re Friends Again, is a tale about a two loveless marriages, one of which is accompanied by a enduring affair.

O’Hara’s characters live for  booze, sex, gossip, and what generally passes in their set as a good time. The writer-narrators blame the shallowness of their group on Prohibition, as if the individuals bear no responsibility for their actions.

O’Hara’s keen observation and ear for dialogue make the characters live, but nothing can make them attractive.

Fortunately, you won’t remember any of them long.

Sermons and Soda Water
by John O’Hara
Random House, 1960
Vol 1. The Girl on the Baggage Truck
Vol 2 Imagine Kissling Pete
Vol 3 We’re Friends Again
© 2010 Linda Gorton Aragoni

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Linda Aragoni

I'm passionate about helping people learn through the medium of nonfiction writing. Although I occasionally have an idea of my own, I mostly build education tools by recycling and repurposing other folks' ideas.

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