Doctorow’s Ragtime

In this scene of E. L. Doctorow’s 1974 novel Ragtime, a father and son go to a Giant’s baseball game.

“As the trolley came across the bridge they could see on the bluff overlooking the wooden stands several huge trees which, lacking leaves even in this season, supported derbied figures of men who preferred not to pay to enter the park but to watch the game festooned in the branches like black flowers swaying in the wind.”

I was so struck by this original book when I first read it in college. It is not a linear story but a combination of scenes and people which gives a unique perspective of America in the early 1900’s. It is filled with visual sentences such as this one in which you can see the black-hatted men dotting the trees. It is a poetic, dramatic story which weaves historical people with Doctorow’s characters. What did you think of Doctorow’s writing style?

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