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Picador, 1985 - American fiction - 235 pages
53 Reviews

‘Harry Houdini, the greatest escape artist of all time, walks stark naked up six flights of stairs to Murderers’ Row, to be incarcerated as a supreme test of his power . . . In a cell opposite, Harry Thaw, eccentric heir to a railway fortune who shot architect Stanford White, finishes a six-course dinner with champagne . . . Sigmund Freud is on the loose at Coney Island, riding the scenic railway and taking a boat through the Tunnel of Love with Carl Jung . . . These are the scenes from Ragtime whose author E. L. Doctorow can be named in the same sentence as such giants of the past as James Joyce and John Dos Passos’ Evening Standard

‘Like ragtime, the jazz form made famous by Scott Joplin, Doctorow’s book is a native American fugue, rhythmic, melodic and stately. The book never stands still for a moment. Story lines constantly interweave; historical figures become part of fictional events and fictional characters participate in real history. Doctorow’s image and improvisations foreshadow the twentieth century’s coming preoccupation with scandal, psychoanalysis, solipsism, race, technological power and megalomania . . . He has seized the strands of actuality and transformed them into a fabulous tale’ Time

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User Review  - madepercy - LibraryThing

This is exactly the type of novel I enjoy most. If I wear to sum it up succinctly, I would say it was the precursor to Forrest Gump but with multiple protagonists intertwined with historical events ... Read full review

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User Review  - bell7 - LibraryThing

An unnamed family (Father, Mother, Grandfather, Mother's Younger Brother, and the boy) live in New Rochelle, NY at the turn of the century. Their family intersects with a variety of historical people ... Read full review

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About the author (1985)

Edgar Lawrence (E.L.) Doctorow was born January 6, 1931, in New York, N.Y. Doctorow's best known works include The Book of Daniel (1971); Ragtime (1975); Loon Lake (1980); World's Fair (1985); Billy Bathgate (1989); and The Waterworks (1994). Media adaptations include Welcome to Hard Times, filmed in 1967 by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer; Ragtime, filmed in 1981 by Dino De Laurentiis; The Book of Daniel, a 1983 Paramount film; and Billy Bathgate, the 1991 film starring Dustin Hoffman. Doctorow's writings have won him numerous accolades. Among them, National Book Award nominations were given to The Book of Daniel in 1972 and Billy Bathgate in 1990, and the award went to World's Fair in 1986. The National Book Critics Circle Award was given to Ragtime in 1976 and Billy Bathgate in 1990. Billy Bathgate also received the PEN/Faulkner Award and the William Dean Howells Medal in 1990. Doctorow began his career as a script reader at Columbia Pictures and as a senior editor for the New American Library, 1959-64. He was editor-in-chief for Dial Press from 1964 to 1969, where he also served as vice president and publisher in his last year on staff. He was a writer-in-residence, 1969-70, at the University of California, Irvine, and was a member of the faculty at Sarah Lawrence College from 1971 to 1978. He became Professor of English and American Letters at New York University in 1982. Doctorow married the writer Helen Esther Setzer on August 20, 1954. He served in the U.S. Army Signal Corps from 1953 to 1955. Doctorow received an A.B. in philosophy (with honors) in 1952 from Kenyon College and did graduate work at Columbia University 1952-53. He has also received numerous honorary degrees.

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