Home Books E.L. Doctorow, Great American Novelist of “Ragtime” Fame, Dies at 84

Ed Doctorow was one of the few people I was actually in awe of– a real writer, a great writer, a pure novelist whose gift is a legacy. “Ragtime,” “The Book of Daniel,” “Loon Lake,” “Billy Bathgate,” “Welcome to Hard Times.” Dead at age 84. He was a great editor first, at Dial Press, before his books took off. Condolences to his family.

Heartbreaking. Thanks, E.L. Doctorow, one of the last of the greats.

The great opening line that would introduce us to Father, Mother, Mother’s Younger Brother, Coalhouse Walker and all those wonderful characters: “In 1902 Father built a house at the crest of the Broadview Avenue hill in New Rochelle, New York.” Doctorow wove together fiction and history the right way, never erring to do justice to facts.
Christopher Lehmann-Haupt wrote in the New York Times of Ragtime, 7/8/75: “It works so well that one devours it in a single sitting as if it were the most conventional of entertainments. And the reviewer is tempted to dispense with heavy breathing and analysis and settle down to mindless celebration of the pure fun of the thing. Of the passages in which one Harry Houdini, grown dissatisfied with being “a trickster, an illusionist, a mere magician,” sails to Europe, learns to fly a biplane and performs a few turns before the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, who “gazed. . .with stupid heavy-lidded eyes” and “didn’t seem to know who Houdini was. He congratulated him on the invention of the airplane.” Or of the scene in which a J. P. Morgan and a Henry Ford get together in a mansion on New York’s West 36th Street, exchange their respective thoughts on reincarnation and “found the most secret and exclusive club in America, The Pyramid, of which they were the only members.”

Please read from 1980: https://www.nytimes.com/books/00/03/05/specials/doctorow-sign.html


Share and Enjoy !

Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.