A Rage to Live Is Rotten to Read

A Rage to Live is a senior moment in novel form. About 250 pages into the novel, John O’Hara reaches the “What was I going to do?” point. He can’t remember, but he goes on writing for another 350 pages anyway.

In 1917, a Fourth of July fundraiser for the Red Cross is being held at the farm of Gladys and Sidney Tate. The governor has pulled strings to get Sidney a Navy commission.

As they go to bed that night, Sidney asks his wife, “When I’m gone will you still be wondering how much I know, how much I’ve guessed, Grace?”

Predictably, in the second chapter John O’Hara jumps back 30 years to begin the story of what Sidney knows about Grace and how he came to know it. Readers learn even more about Sidney’s sexy wife than even he knows.

None of it is pretty.

Smack in the middle of the novel, Sidney drops dead.

The novel dies with him.

Instead of engendering sympathy for Grace, the nasty things that happen to her only make her less appealing to readers. She is, to put it bluntly, a rich bitch.

And, to put it bluntly, A Rage to Live is an awful book.

A Rage to Live
By John O’Hara
Random House, 1949
590 pages
1949 Bestseller # 4
My Grade: D+
© 2009 Linda Gorton Aragoni

Published by

Linda G. Aragoni

I make big ideas simple for learners. In eight sentences, 34 words, I taught teens and adults to write competently. Now I'm writing guides to turn willing volunteers into great nursing home visitors.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.