To the memory of E. L. Doctorow, who passed away on July 27th, 2015. He gave his name to our Pushcart Prize Benefit Inviting Committee, and what follows is a blog post written to celebrate his support of WordTheatre.
Imagine the time: 1975, Vietnam ending in April, Cold War still burning. Amid the chaos a little novel called Ragtime, destined to be named one of the greatest novels in a century of great novels, is released to the world.
Ragtime was written by E.L. Doctorow and became one of those instant sensations adored by both critics and consumers alike. A complex historical novel detailing New York City from the turn of the century up to World War I, the book was not only featured in Modern Library’s list of greatest novels, but won the 1976 National Book Critics Circle Award and was featured in scholar Frederic Jameson’s definitive work on postmodernism. Its intricate analysis of how we approach history, how we understand the past, and what that means to be alive and human creates a rich and layered narrative worthy of being read and read again.
Doctorow’s work includes historical fiction, experimental fiction, and Welcome to Hard Times, a postmodern western. Before becoming an author he also worked as an editor for Ian Fleming and Ayn Rand.
In 2002, he donated his official papers to NYU. We at WordTheatre suggest the following daytrip, good for families and singlefolk alike: spend July 18th morning at NYU, looking through his papers, and then spend that night at WordTheatre’s Pushcart Prize Benefit, which features great actors reading great fiction.
E.L. Doctorow is a member of our Pushcart Prize Benefit inviting committee. In Ragtime he invited you to explore the world of World War I America, and now he invites you to the world of great fiction.