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Appointment in Samarra

Critique • Quotes

Appointment in SamarraFirst edition
Publication details ▽ Publication details △

First publication

Literary form


Writing language

Author's country
United States

Approx. 98,000 words

Notable lines

Our story opens in the mind of Luther L. (L. for LeRoy) Fliegler, who is lying in his bed, not thinking of anything, but just conscious of his own breathing, and sensitive to his own heartbeats.

— First line

When Caroline Walker fell in love with Julian English she was a little tired of him. That was in the summer of 1926, one of the most unimportant years in the history of the United States, and the year in which Caroline Walker was sure her life had reached a pinnacle of uselessness.


Our story never ends.
You pull the pin out of a hand grenade, and in a few seconds it explodes and men in a small area get killed and wounded. That makes bodies to be buried, hurt men to be treated. It makes widows and fatherless children and bereaved parents. It means pension machinery, and it makes for pacifism in some and for lasting hatred in others. Again, a man out of the danger area sees the carnage the grenade creates, and he shoots himself in the foot. Another man had been standing there just two minutes before the thing went off, and thereafter he believes in God or in a rabbit’s foot. Another man sees human brains for the first time and locks up the picture until one night years later, when he finally comes out with a description of what he saw, and the horror of his description turns his wife away from him....


Everything returned to him then, as though in a terrible, vibrating sound; like standing too near a big bell and having it suddenly struck without warning. His fingers and his mouth lit a cigarette; they knew how.


"Oh. So what did you say to him?" said Irma.

— First line


Critique • Quotes