3.5/5 Writing on the topics of Adultery, Class, sex, alcohol, child abuse and suicide was always going to be categorized as heavy going, and it is, especially when thinking of it now I didn't like a single character. Gloria, we learn as the story progresses was abused as a child, and thus may explain behaviour, which is at times wild, she is not only a victim but an enthusiastic consumer of sex, while still being an empathetic (if doomed) character that must have been revolutionary for the year the book was published. Sitting in the background are themes of money, the great depression, and business, which adds a bit more depth to the story, and O'Hara is good at conveying the tense, edgy atmosphere of New York City at this time, when so many fearfully hoped that the Crash's aftermath was nearing its end and recovery would soon blossom, a time of waiting and hoping.
I want to give you the feel of the book. John O'Hara has in this novel imagined how it came to be that on June 8, 1931 the body of Marian Starr Faithfull, a beautiful young promiscuous socialite, liberal with drugs and drink, was discovered washed up on Long Beach, Long Island, New York. Gloria Wandrous, Weston Liggett and Eddie Brunner-- those are the three central characters to keep your eye on. Gloria is just coping as best she can with what life has thrown at her. I have written down just a few fragments here and there, and maybe from these few bits you cannot get the mood or see the humor, but take my word for it, the lines are very, very good. The audiobook I listened to was narrated by Gretchen Mol. The story is told, moving from one character to another, often we are in the characters heads. When we are in Glorias head Mols intonation is utterly superb. When Mol speaks mens words the intonation is not as good. They sound just a bit more base than the women, but if you are listening carefully to the authors words you know who is speaking anyhow..even if you might not easily hear it. Her intonation for Gloria is so wonderful, I simply would not want any other narrator. Mol adds a dimension to Glorias character that I love; the voice you hear mirrors who she is. Are you up to a book that presents real life in NYC in the early 30s?
The book is way ahead of its time for its description of people involved in adult situations, but there is nothing here to shock modern readers, deadened as we are to literary excess. I struggled a bit with knowing who was who at first because O'Hara tossed new characters at you frequently, and almost always in pairs.
This was beautifully written, but I think that some of it I just didn't understand. Also, I thought the book was a little "info-dumpy", because there was so much detail, yet I don't think the story warranted putting all that detail in.
Without the shock factor, the central character, Gloria, seemed more of a self-destructive, careless and unfeeling person than she might have seemed in 1935. The book itself made me think of the story of The Black Dahlia, in that the girl in question, Gloria, seemed that same sort of misguided person, seeking love in all the wrong places, and wondering why she was outside the norm and not like the other girls around her. OHara based this story on his imaginings of the life of a young girl whose body was washed up on a beach in Long Island, with no account for how she had died.
This novel is full of surprises, notably the way in which O'Hara frames Gloria Wandrous' call-girl life against the New York/East coast milieu of Yale boys, corrupt cops, speakeasies, the theaterical demi-monde, Pittsburgh industrialists, and even pedophilic clergymen.
Zwei Adjektive beschreiben den Roman besonders treffend: urban und realistisch erzählt O'Hara vier Tage aus Glorias Leben und dem einiger Männer und Frauen aus ihrem Umfeld,deren Wege sich in New York immer wieder kreuzen, just wie die der Personen im ULYSSES. Bis auf das Ende des Romans, das auf mich pathetisch wirkt (auch wenn es auf Tatsachen beruhen mag), bietet BUTTERFIELD 8 viel erzählerisches Licht: O'Hara hat ein großartiges Ohr für Dialoge, die in der deutschen Übersetzung leider gelegentlich etwas kryptisch klingen, und sein Romanpersonal ist quicklebendig und erfreulich klischeefrei. Aber so modern der Roman in seinen erzählerischen Mitteln und seinem Personal auch ist,geht O'Hara den Weg leider nicht konsequent zuende.
The story is set during the Great Depression and asks the question, "What if a woman could behave like a man?" That's not to mean that she took on masculine traits but that she played by the same rules. But in many ways, and especially by today's standards, O'Hara is both sexist and racist.
John Henry O'Hara was an American writer born in Pottsville, Pennsylvania.