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[E–pub READ] Ragtime By E.L. Doctorow

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Ragtime By E.L. DoctorowNo One Ever Drove This Fast BeforeThe most startling thing about Ragtime is the pace of the narrative It never slackens even to allow direct speech It moves relentlessly from place to place person to person with non stop description assertion connection reversal There are crowds and traffic and excitement wherever ou look If there is temporary euilibrium it is fragile a tour boat listing first to starboard then to port a motor car belching steam at the crest of a hill a chauffeur bribed to keep his mouth shutThis is extrovert writing Active voice Strong verbs Present tense High freuency transmission Introspection and interior monologue are almost non existent It s like travelling in an empty railway carriage as the scenery of events passes by with billboards flashing the names of contemporary celebrities Admiral Peary Teddy Roosevelt Stanford White Freud Houdini Not until Bret Easton Ellis s American Psycho will there be trendy brand names and trademarks in a novelWhat matters in Ragtime is mood style spirit Plot is really the history of the epoch a new age in America Character is the making of that history by immigrants and street people and freaks and the new suburbanites and the Robber Barons of Fifth Avenue and Murray Hill The principle characters are roles not people Father Tateh Yiddish for Daddy Younger Brother The Boy To have a proper name in Ragtime means the character is disposable background used to connect the principle roles to historical events Houdini comes to the suburban house and exchanges adventure tales with Father Evelyn Nesbit notorious wife of a celebrity murderer has an affair with Younger Brother and falls in love with TatehGetting on moving up splashing out is what everyone does Each in their own way dependent on class insanely opulent parties for the insanely wealthy polar expeditions for the well off bourgeoisie and an outing on the street cars for the proles Members of each class know almost nothing of those of another but each celebrates its distinct freedoms to the most they are able This is the American Way If it seems heartless or pointless racist lynchings destitution child labour starvation wages that s only because Faerie you re not part of it This constitutes the real world get over it or go back whereou came from or die it s called freedom of choiceSocialism and anarchism come with the immigrants Agitation is intellectual plays lectures study groups with an international awareness that would disappear by mid century The plays of Ibsen are used to incite the masses as well as provoke police retaliation Sex is something ou discover accidentally for ourself Unanalysed it just happens and Goodbye Soldier War Biography you get on with that too usually badly and with the still prevailing dire conseuences Assassination is still a common form of transfer of governmental powerMen still love their non Oedipal mothers without guilt or shame Women radicals like Emma Goldman make no distinction between capitalist oppression and patriarchal abuse Both oppression and abuse have to be eradicated and the corporate system because neither it nor its universal mediaet exist don t co opt them as armchair liberals The automobile is a luxury but that doesn t matter because trams can get Cinnamon and Elephants: Sri Lanka and the Netherlands from 1600 (Rijksmuseum country series) you from New York to Boston for a nickel But probably not ifou re BlackThis is a novel of America on the turn racing to get somewhere else as rapidly as possible The immigrants want out of New York the aspiring rubes want in The national horror of the Civil War has been fictionalised by both sides into an heroic misunderstanding So much fuss it was and no one could remember what it was about These labour unions are going to crush this country if we don t crush them first None of em is even American Valkea kuin lumi yet The only thing irritating than immigrants is black folk specially when they start acting like they was white folkEuropeans may be decadent and always feuding over something silly but their armies are sufficiently distant not to be a worry Everything we want is made or grown or taken out of the earth right here or soon will be thanks to Morgan s money and Ford s genius Anyway the Pacific is easier prey Hawaii Guam and the Philippines in the bag alreadyIndustrialisation has taken an unexpected direction not the factory model of England so effectively attacked by Marx but in the construction of giant corporate cartels controlled by a few hundred financiers But who s worried the American world runs on parallel rails of steel that have no obvious terminusEverything after this cultural turn we can recognise as modern America What happened before is forgotten or mythologised It might as well be the new creation talked about in the Bible At least that idea would keep the momentum the crowds the traffic the striving upward the excitement of 20th century America going even if the ultimate destination isn t a religious paradise but entirely un thought and unknown Movement is the most important thing Our legacy honoured still Writing is like driving a car at night You can only see as far asour headlights but ou can make the whole trip that way EL Doctorow Ragtime So my first book of 2014 isn t even on my to read list Must be good Yes in fact it is the killer historical novel of the Ragtime era It is the big uncle to late 90s Philip Roth I Married a Communist American Pastoral Don DeLillo Libra Underworld Gore Vidal Empire Hollywood Norman Mailer Executioner s Song Harlot s Ghost novels which seem to all bend a little to the wind that blew out of this syncopated tight urgent historical novel Doctorow captures a swift and direct channel of New York s energy contradiction growth insecurity isolation as America transformed between the late 1800s and early 1900s It captured the race immigrant monied and cultural changes that gripped New York as cars were beginning to roll down the streets and planes and Houdini were both beginning to float briefly in the air Doctorow actually edited Norman Mailer s An American Dream so it might seem odd to call Doctorow a literary uncle to Mailer since Ragitme was originally published in 1974 but as most large families invariably find some nephews ARE actually older than their biological uncles But I still hold that Ragtime was influential on Mailer s later historical novels and even nonfiction OK so perhaps Mailer and Doctorow are like kissing cousins Fine I ll call them cousins EL Doctorow was not on my radar at all until my local bookstore proprietor sang his praises to me He mentioned Ragtime as a good place to start So thanks to Brian from Marrowbone Books for the excellent suggestionThe story is set in New Rochelle New York at the beginning of the 20th century and mostly focuses on one well to do family Father owns a successful flags and fireworks business At one point he sets off on Robert Peary s expedition to reach the North Pole but one POINT HE SETS OFF ON ROBERT PEARY S EXPEDITION he sets off on Robert Peary s expedition reach the North Pole but his return he finds it hard to resume a normal relationship with his wife Mother s Younger Brother is an unhappy fellow with a flair for designing elaborate fireworks He becomes obsessed with the socialite Evelyn Nesbit and spends most of his time following her around One day the family take. Published in 1975 Ragtime changed our very concept of what a novel could be An extraordinary tapestry Ragtime captures the spirit of America in the era between the turn of the century the First World War The story opens in 1906 in New Rochelle NY at the home of an affluent Am. ,
In Sarah a depressed black girl and her baby Coalhouse Walker the child s father begins to visit every Sunday even though Sarah refuses to see him The introduction of this oung man will have enormous conseuences for the household and the city in generalOne of the things I loved about the book is how real life figures are seamlessly woven into the narrative Harry Houdini plays a significant part and Doctorow does a good job of explaining the motivation behind his death defying stunts The financier JP Morgan also features and has a fascinating conversation with Henry Ford Other cameos include Sigmund Freud Emiliano Zapata and Archduke Franz Ferdinand ou never know who might show up nextRagtime brings 1900s America to life in a spectacular way It s an evocative page turning portrait of an exciting period in US history and I can see why it has been hailed as a classic I look forward to reading from the esteemed Mr Doctorow and I ll be pestering my trusty bookseller for recommendations A ragin feelin I had during the first half of Ragtime was oh my gawd this may possibly become my favorite novel all ear Yeah That overwhelmingly delicious feeling last ear achieved during my Where d You Go BernadetteThe Godfather double whammy was reproduced until it almost organically chose to focus on one specific era in US history Ragtime is just so majestically beautiful taking on the whole of America between 1903 1915 aka the dawning of the 20th century displaying an intrepid attitude that blazes that acceleratesIt is incredible an accessible long meditation like a panorama portrait described with broad lush strokes accessible unlike Saramago or Garcia Maruez It s funny it s very clever with its use of scales for everything in literature is worth a mention from a simple shadow on the floor to the features of the general populace of the great American metropolis this novel has it all when the scale becomes unfathomable Doctorow maintains one singular strand in a huge tapestry that has many strands it seems He chooses to fix the novel past the faux majesties of the new money set where Gatsby existed and the slum wretched poor the days before the grapes of wrath in a factual story of a black man robbed of his property his basic human dignity and conseuently of his revenge on the white cowards Ragtime is entertaining wholesome very educational I would urge every American History teacher to add it to the syllabus It describes a macrocosm effectively the factoids are invigorating Plus the prose well it s endearing unforgettable good great amazing Today I was thinking of the 101 reasons why I love books the actual physical papery pagey spiney things with words all over them and one of the reasons was that they re not machines Everything i seem to have to do these days is with some kind of machine At work of course chained to the pc actually it s a laptop on a docking station with two screens I wonder when they ll add me a third and although I m emailing and talking to people all day long sexy voiced nurses from France and Argentina and Ohio some of the time still it s all software this click here upload that database gateway ou know Then when Photoatlas of Inclusions in Gemstones Volume 3 you re home andou want to have a nice time watching somebody s life go off the rails and everything go to hell in a hand basket let s say season three of Breaking Bad it s dvd time I haven t got with the streaming thing Blood Magic Divided Realms yet still old fashioned but that s all technobuttons and three remote controls for some reason Enough of that let s listen to some pre war hillbilly or some French 60s stuff I got recently iPod machinery everything digitised everything turned into waves and dots and Hoggs Bison particles But not books No downloading no clicking no batteries no booting up You open it and there it is working forou You can drop it on rugged terrain from a height of well any height I bet ou could sling a paperback off a fifty storey tower block and still read it after it landed unless it landed on a passing pedestrian and brained them and had to be bagged as evidence Books are almost indestructible I left one out in the rain them and had to be bagged as evidence Books are almost indestructible I left one out in the rain Didn t matter I dried it out over a two week period and aside from a little crinkling ou couldn t tell Books are tough customers They can take it Not like iPods They can t take it Try throwing one of those from a speeding car They re trying to turn books into machinery Not my books Might be good for the new generation of teenage cyborgs sprouting up who ll never know the joy of shelves but I like the heft of the thing in Training the Trainer your fist orour delicate spindly sensitive fingers of course I thought Ragtime was the bees knees the cat s miaow and the turtle s lambada I couldn t see that it was possible to dislike this novel I wanna read it again Patriotism was a reliable sentiment in the early 1900 s Teddy Roosevelt was President The population customarily gathered in great numbers either out of doors for parades public concerts fish fries political picnics social outings or indoors in meeting halls vaudeville theatres operas ballroomsThis relatively short novel is jam packed with a myriad of characters some fictional and some real life individuals It is a grand undertaking that introduces us to the events and people of early twentieth century America of New York in particular For any reader interested in a panoramic view of the times Ragtime definitely delivers Anyone that savors an in depth character study may find this book lacking in that regard In fact several major characters are without names throughout Instead we meet Mother Father Younger Brother and the boy I had a hard time connecting with them besides being nameless they were also remote and I felt detached from them emotionally A handful of imaginary characters are given names that of Tateh Sarah Coalhouse Walker Jr and the poverty and injustices suffered by this group is shown in stark contrast to the affluence and social standing of those unnamed I did find it uite interesting when a variety of prominent historical wandered into the plot to make an appearance or two Harry Houdini Henry Ford Sigmund JP Morgan Henry Ford Sigmund Freud JP Morgan T Washington Emma Goldman and even the Archduke Franz Ferdinand to name a few are weaved into this story along with our fictional characters At times the stories of the real and imaginary intersect in a curious manner This was my second EL Doctorow work I enjoyed it but perhaps not uite as much as my first Homer and Langley I think it was an excellent endeavor and was clearly well researched I learned a little bit about a lot of folks It was a bit too sweeping in such few pages for my taste and at times it was confusing as the plot jumped around What I found to be the most stimulating was the story of Coalhouse Walker Jr From ragtime musician to outlaw he was undoubtedly the most fascinating of fictional characters here An interchange between this man and Booker T Washington was one of my favorites in the entire novel 35 stars 335 Ragtime EL DoctorowRagtime is a novel by E L Doctorow published in 1975 This work of historical fiction is mainly set in the New York City area from 1902 until 1912. Erican family One lazy Sunday afternoon the famous escape artist Harry Houdini swerves his car into a telephone pole outside their house Almost magically the line between fantasy historical fact between real imaginary characters disappears Henry Ford Emma Goldman JP Morgan Ev. ,

With brief scenes towards the end describing the United States entry into World War I in 1917 The novel centers on a wealthy family living in New Rochelle New York simply named Father Mother Mother s Younger Brother Grandfather and the little boy Father and Mother s oung son The narrator is never identified The family business is the manufacturer of flags and fireworks an easy source of wealth due to the national enthusiasm for patriotic displays Father joins the first expedition to the North Pole and his return sees a change in his relationship with his wife who has experienced a taste of independence in his absence Mother s Younger Brother is a genius at explosives and fireworks but is an insecure unhappy character who chases after love and excitement He becomes obsessed with the notorious socialite Evelyn Nesbit stalking her through the city and eventually embarking on a brief unsatisfactory affair with her that leaves him even isolated 2006 1367 1385 280 9644870735 20 24061399 The time from 1902 to about 1914 the place around New York City an its prosperous suburb New Rochelle New York the Ragtime Era Scott Joplin lively syncopated music has swept the nation if ou ever seen the film The Sting ou will recognize the sounds A wealthy family they make fireworks and American flags living contently in all appearances outside the city Father Mother Mother s Younger Brother Grandfather and the little boyyes no proper names given here kind of uirky to be sure The author EL Doctorow to mix things up has an abandoned newly born black baby found and saved by the unnamed family near their home Sarah a naive teenager who left her child on the ground to die is very depressed a broken love affair the reason and taken in as a housekeeper they feels sorry for her Coalhouse Walker Jr the unfazed lover a musician and superb piano player locates Sarah after a search visits every week the backdoor of course ironically at first she will not see him or even care for the unwanted infant Mr Walker a native of St Louis is a proud man and doesn t take insults from anyone the color of his skin has not made him feel inferior uite the contrary Showing the impressed family how great a pianist in their out of tune piano that embarrasses the head of the house So when he is harassed by the volunteer firemen led by racist chief Will Conklin jealous of Walker s Model T Ford passing the station the well dressed and soft spoken black man demands justice when his car is damaged by them Not receiving satisfaction from the uninterested local authorities he reported the incident to and takes justice into his own handswhich causes much destruction than the fireworks family ever imagined to the usually uiet small town no justice no peace the writer seems to say Terror permeates the whole municipality making national headlines as the destruction spreads Nevertheless how far can this be taken without injuring innocent people This uestion can never be answered properly and it isn t hereHistorical figures materialize in the novel continuously Harry Houdini Henry Ford JP Morgan Emma Goldman Evelyn Nesbit etc they spice up the narrative A fun aspect of this book one of many This a short but important and thought provoking prizewinning work for readers who dig underneath and discover the truth everyone wants respect no matter the race they are born intopeople are just people Sometime early in his career EL Doctorow figured out a great formula for historical fiction He takes real life iconic figures from whatever era he s covering and has them interact in believable ways with his fictional characters It makes for a show don t tell scenario that brings history alive With Ragtime we get to peek inside the heads of Houdini Freud JP Morgan Emma Goldman Henry Ford and others In the process we learn the issues of the day and get an authentic feel for the setting We can appreciate the context and connections that animate his stories Ragtime is set in the decade leading up to WWI There was a lot going on in those days especially in a place like New York It was a period of social unrest brought on no doubt by the great divide between the haves and the have nots An upper middle class family in New Rochelle was one focal point of the book and a Jewish immigrant and his oung daughter were another Their changing fortunes were charted in revealing ways A ragtime pianist also featured prominently as articulate and clean as a President sorry Joe Biden has always seemed blunderously funny to me until racist stupidity on the part of a fire chief pushed his buttons Doctorow as usual weaved the stories together WELL HE WAS LONG ON CONFLICT TOO WHICH KEPT He was long on conflict too which kept pages turning World s Fair and Billy Bathgate were very good in a similar way that is in mixing real people and events with those of his own creation At the same time I ve also noticed some common threads that have begun to put me off just a tad For one the men and even the The Gypsy Wisdom Spellbook young boys are often how should I put it carnally preoccupied Some might say it s almost to the extreme of actuality Another repeated theme seems to be how much fully evolved the Jewish soul is compared to the Gentile one Again some may say it s a representative depiction of the true demographic but it seems a little too overt when virtually all the Jews are wise both in the book sense and the street sense morally superior and rife with character for having been so downtrodden Doctorow grew up in the Bronx of Russian Jewish parentage so I suppose he comes by any biases honestly It s not like any of that particularly bothered me It was just something I noticed What seemed provocative though was the favorable light he seemed to shine on the anarchists he profiled Anytime killing people is part ofour agenda I like to believe Life in the Slow Lane Observations on Art Architecture Manners and Other Such Spectator Sports you re inviting an Extremist label toour cause but I d When we read history books we are given a rather wide view of a tapestry of interconnected events what Doctorow did with Ragtime is to take a magnifying glass to that intricate tapestry to give the reader a much much closer look at some events that we thought we were familiar with As such it s a bit hard to summarize we follow some episodes of the lives of a Upstate New York family and how their existence is linked to such famous figures as Harry Houdini Henry Ford Emma Goldman Evelyn Nesbit Sigmund Freud etcThe writing style is very simple and clean which makes Ragtime a fast read and it also strikes a very pleasant storytelling tone But that tone is also a bit impersonal and while I enjoyed this visit to early 20th century America I m not sure that I loved it I never really felt transported to the setting nor especially invested in the stories of the various characters Which is weird because I am fascinated by that time period To be honest this might very well be a case of It S Not You s not ou s me as I picked this book up after two rather mind blowing books to keep myself distracted during a grueling work retreat I was definitely not in my best headspace and that might have influenced my reading experienceI might revisit that one someday just to see if it really is me or if its the boo. Elyn Nesbit Sigmund Freud Emiliano Zapata slip in out of the tale crossing paths with Doctorow's imagined family other fictional characters including an immigrant peddler a ragtime musician from Harlem whose insistence on a point of justice drives him to revolutionary violenc. .