Synopses & Reviews
and Billy Bathgate
to World’s Fair, The March,
and Homer & Langley
, the fiction of E. L. Doctorow comprises a towering achievement in modern American letters. Now Doctorow returns with an enthralling collection of brilliant, startling short fiction about people who, as the author notes in his Preface, are somehow “distinct from their surroundings—people in some sort of contest with the prevailing world”.
A man at the end of an ordinary workday, extracts himself from his upper-middle-class life and turns to foraging in the same affluent suburb where he once lived with his family.
A college graduate takes a dishwasher’s job on a whim, and becomes entangled in a criminal enterprise after agreeing to marry a beautiful immigrant for money.
A husband and wife’s tense relationship is exacerbated when a stranger enters their home and claims to have grown up there.
An urbanite out on his morning run suspects that the city in which he’s lived all his life has transmogrified into another city altogether.
These are among the wide-ranging creations in this stunning collection, resonant with the mystery, tension, and moral investigation that distinguish the fiction of E. L. Doctorow. Containing six unforgettable stories that have never appeared in book form, and a selection of previous Doctorow classics, All the Time in the World affords us another opportunity to savor the genius of this American master.
"It's best to be suspicious when a writer's topic is said to be America, but in the case of Doctorow, the claim has merit. The much lauded (three Pulitzer Prize nominations, three-time National Book Critics Circle Award winner) Doctorow writes novels including Ragtime, World's Fair, and Billy Bathgate that paint America in all its shine and sleaze. And, though on a smaller canvas, his short stories possess the same breadth. These stories half of which have appeared in other collections, half collected for the first time, and one making its debut move from the Bronx to the Midwest, from city to suburb, and feature among other characters criminals, upstanding citizens gone temporarily feral, religious cultists, and a Dylanesque songwriter who poetically writes his way through an alternate and wholly recognizable American history. The stories aren't equally strong there's awkward dialogue in some, an unconvincing premise in 'Wakefield,' an ending that feels tacked on to the otherwise strong 'Walter John Harmon' and, in the title story, strangeness that seems to be there for its own sake. But the strongest 'A House on the Plains,' 'The Writer in the Family,' 'Assimilation,' and 'Liner Notes: The Songs of Billy Bathgate' cover an expansive terrain and combine the compact satisfactions of short fiction with a leisurely refusal to hurry. (Mar.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
E. L. Doctorow’s novels include Homer & Langley, The March, City of God, The Waterworks, Welcome to Hard Times, The Book of Daniel, Ragtime, Loon Lake, Lives of the Poets, World’s Fair, and Billy Bathgate. Among his honors are the National Book Award, three National Book Critics Circle awards, two PEN/Faulkner awards, the William Dean Howells Medal of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the presidentially conferred National Humanities Medal. E. L. Doctorow lives in New York City.