ANDREW’S BRAIN by E.L. Doctorow

This was a wonderfully easy book to get into and enjoy; now I just need to figure out what it was about! Although there are no quotation marks, it seems to be a dialogue: a man whom we later identify as Andrew talking to what appears to be some kind of psychologist, someone who studies the mind. Andrew himself is a cognitive neuroscientist; he studies the physical brain. On one level, Doctorow seems to be examining the distinction between the two, as though Andrew’s mind were behaving in ways that Andrew’s brain alone cannot explain.

January 9, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: ,  · Posted in: Contemporary, Reading Guide, Unique Narrative, y Award Winning Author

RAGTIME by E. L. Doctorow

E.L. Doctorow’s 1974 masterpiece, Ragtime, takes its name from the a style of music, the melodious offspring of blackface cakewalks and patriotic marches, that perfectly captures the optimism and energy of the America in the early 1900s. It’s aptly titled too, for Doctorow manages to capture the energy of the era, a time of hitherto unheard of growth and prosperity, a time when coal miners took on the capitalists for safer work conditions and fair pay, and won; a time when a single, socially- minded photographer, documenting immigrant ghettos, took pictures powerful enough to move a president and serve as evidence of the necessity of improved housing conditions for the poor; a time when American entrepreneurs amassed more wealth than some European monarchy, through little more than hard work and talent. However, it was also the era of Jim Crow legislation and the venomous prejudice that made it impossible for a black man to materially enjoy his success, say, by driving a shiny new Model T Ford – but more on that later.

July 30, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Class - Race - Gender, Classic, Facing History, National Book Critic Circle (NBCC), NE & New York, New York City, y Award Winning Author


E.L. Doctorow is without a doubt one of the most critically acclaimed authors publishing in America today. He has enthralled us with RAGTIME, mesmerized us with HOMER & LANGLEY, snapped us to attention with THE MARCH, and provoked us to think outside of the box with THE BOOK OF DANIEL.

But even though I’ve periodically read his short stories in The New Yorker, I never quite viewed him as a “short story writer.” Well, after finishing ALL THE TIME IN THE WOLRD, that perception has definitely changed.

March 22, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags:  · Posted in: Short Stories

HOMER & LANGLEY by E. L. Doctorow

As one reads HOMER & LANGLEY and is swept along on its strange tide, one tries to raise one’s head intermittently to admire the craft. But that craft is, like the shoes made by the elves in story, so seamless, so perfect, that it’s hard to grasp until one is deposited on the other shore and left to linger for a while.

The novel uses the theme of the real-life case of the Collyer brothers, Homer and Langley Collyer, who lived on 5th Avenue in New York from the 1880s to 1947. A case of great notoriety, the brothers (suffering from extreme compulsive hoarding disorder) effectively mewed themselves up within their house. Over the decades this filled with newspapers, collections of mainly non-functional items, and garbage. They disassociated themselves from the outside world to the extent that their electricity and water supplies were cut off – a situation they did not attempt to rectify. After their death (caused directly by the accumulated items within the house), over 100 tons of hoarded rubbish were removed from the house.

September 6, 2010 · Judi Clark · 2 Comments
Tags: , , , , ,  · Posted in: Contemporary, Facing History, New York City, y Award Winning Author