E.L. Doctorow

E.L. Doctorow, 1931 - 2015

I’m afraid I owe E.L. Doctorow better than I will be able to muster here. You see his novel Ragtime was the first grown up book I ever read. It was 1976, I was twelve years old and visiting my grandparents for the summer. They had rented a cabin on Grand Lake near Alpena, Michigan. One afternoon when the adults were napping—resting up from their early morning fishing—and I had had my fill of swimming, I rummaged through the left-behind-by-renters books of the lodge’s meager library. The book was, as I recall, the only one there that neither dealt with the best ways to catch the biggest fish, nor having a picture of a muscular, bare-chested hunk and a swooning damsel on the cover. Doctorow did something that day for which I will always be indebted to him. He showed me that books written for adults were not necessarily like adults themselves: dull, prone to long, confusing lectures and all but inscrutable. This book moved.

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