Sunday, July 26, 2015

My hero: EL Doctorow by Michael Schmidt

If there was a Great American Novel it would be Doctorow’s Ragtime, that melting pot of historical presences and common people

EL Doctorow
EL Doctorow in his office at Dial Press in 1966. Photograph: Martha Holmes/The LIFE Images Collection
Edgar Lawrence Doctorow’s relation to the American novel was radical, contrary and corrective. He respected his readers, and was a literal-minded, unillusioned patriot at odds with those who exploit patriotism. If there was a Great American Novel it would be Ragtime (1975), that melting pot of historical presences and common people, from Emma Goldman to JP Morgan, Henry Ford to Theodore Dreiser, the jazz trumpeter to the disenfranchised worker, resurrected with all their bodily functions functioning, in a world so vividly imagined that it breathes something more than oxygen back into their lungs.

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