THE INSTRUMENT by John O'Hara

THE INSTRUMENT

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In the last ten years one could generalize and say that O'Hara's readers come on more strongly than his critics; that the former like his novels which are consistent, predictable and professional; that the latter have paid greater tribute to his short stories with their flawlessly sharp skills. This new novel, which is new for O'Hara, seems to fall somewhere between the two modes and it's a somewhat more limited success. It's a run-on story strung on an idea--a catchy one--beginning in an updated Pal Joey foreground, the theatre which has the inflection of show biz and which he has used only for occasional stories recently. Yank Lucas, a playwright, completes his latest and what will be his finest play, accidentally. The play is a vehicle for star property Zena Gollum, and Yank has a shortlived affair with her which will be the motivation for his next play. He leaves town on opening night, goes up to Vermont, has a number of equally transient sexual experiences (with a young girl, with the post-mistress, etc.) and by the close realizes that as a man he's only the instrument of his talent which neutralizes his capacity to feel..... O'Hara doesn't like to be prompted by his critics but here the virtue of his denser novels with their expertly annotated habitats and characters, or at any rate types, seems to have given way to superficial exchanges--many of them taking place in random beds. However he's a good enough showman to keep his audience in their seats.
Pub Date: Nov. 23rd, 1967
ISBN: 039443093X
Page count: 328pp
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 1967




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