Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Modern Library's Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century Quest: #86

Title: Ragtime
Author: E.L. Doctorow
Judgin' the Book by Its Cover: U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!

Thoughts: I loved this book. I was hooked from the first few pages, and I devoured the whole thing in just a few days. Historical figures slipped in and out of a simple story about a family living outside of NYC in the years following the turn of the 19th century, but it wasn't in any way reminiscent of hokey "historical fiction".

The book was a story about change, specifically the way that simple personal decisions gather steam and become society-wide changes. The wide variety of characters from different situations helped to paint an impressionistic picture of what life was like in those years, and I found myself looking up the real people who appeared in the novel because they were portrayed so compellingly (not a few of whom I was convinced were creations of Doctorow's imagination, due to the magnitude of their eccentricities). Very enjoyable read, especially for a New Yorker. Highly recommended!

Now, I have a 16 books to read before I get to skip a previously-read novel, which is by far the longest stretch in the quest. Wish me luck!

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