Next Up: Ragtime
Yet again I walk into the unknown.
I’ve never read Ragtime, and I’m quite unfamiliar with E.L. Doctorow, other than simply knowing the name.
So Ragtime, my 56th book from the Time list, will be a journey into unknown territory–although the book should be familiar in that it covers the time period from the turn of the 20th century to the beginning of World War I. This era seems to have produced a lot of novels on the list.
Ragtime is historical fiction that tells the story of a white, upper-class family in New York who have to step out of their comfort zone to deal with issues of race and class. The story includes a wide array of historical figures, including Harry Houdini, JP Morgan, Henry Ford, Sigmund Freud, and many others.
Anyway, a little bit about Ragtime and its author, E.L. Doctorow:
- Published in 1975, Ragtime was listed #86 on the Modern Library’s Top 100 novels of the 20th Century, in addition to appearing on the Time list.
- The novel was nominated for the Nebula Award for Best Novel and won the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1975. In 1976, it won the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters Award.
- Ragtime was adapted into a 1981 movie starring James Cagney and Pat O Brien.
- It was also adapted into a broadway musical in 1998 and received 13 Tony Award nominations. The musical ran for 834 performances until it closed in 2000, but then reappeared on Broadway for several months in 2009.
- Doctorow has written several wildly popular novels, including Ragtime, World’s Fair, The Book of Daniel, Billy Bathgate, and The March.
- Doctorow got his start working as a book editor—where he worked with and helped publish novels by Ian Fleming, Ayn Rand, James Baldwin and Norman Mailer.
- Currently 82, Doctorow is on staff at New York University where he is the Lewis and Loretta Glucksman Professor in American Letters. That sounds pretty official.
How would you like to go to a class with E.L. Doctorow as your English professor. Wow. That would make college interesting.
So before I dive into Ragtime and Doctorow in the coming weeks, any overall thoughts on this novel or its author?