World's Fair / E.L. Doctorow - Oh, my!

This is not a book review.

Over the years, since early 1996, I've more-or-less kept track of what I read, and have written over 200 book reviews for my own pleasure. Some are mere two-or-three- word impressions, such as "As suspense thrillers go, not bad" (Vertical Run, by Joseph Garber); "Eminently forgettable" (Clean Break, by Val McDermid); "Delightful and witty" (Mort, by Terry Pratchett); Some are puzzled ruminations about the storyline and characters, e.g. the 1235 words I wrote trying to figure out Kazuo Ishiguro's When We Were Orphans.

Then comes a book like World's Fair and leaves me speechless.
It's simply a Good Book. A shining example of what literature is all about.
I have no desire to analyze it and define what makes it so good. That would be "work", like writing a term paper. It would require re-reading it not for the sake of enjoying it all over again, but for the sake of taking it apart, finding quotations to support or exemplify my "findings" and "conclusions". That's not fun.

It took me a while to read, switching from the large soft-cover to my Kindle and back. It's not an unputdownable novel. I put it down several times, whether because I reached a chapter which was Greek to me -- say all about baseball or football in America in the 1930s; or because I reached a sad chapter and wanted something to cheer me up. Of which I had plenty, since my cousin Gail in Canada, avowing that "Laughter is the best medicine", sent me half a dozen humorous books (Nora Ephron, Tina Fey, Joan Rivers, and more). Mind you, World's Fair has its fair share of humorous passages. One that comes to mind is chapter 18, which describes Edgar (the protagonist) and his friend Bertram's "pretend", swashbuckling games. And the beginning of chapter 27, the essay that Edgar wrote and sent to the World's Fair on the theme of the Typical American Boy -- funny, incredibly moving and thought-provoking.

So there. I've finished reading the novel, and I'm not going to review it.

But if you're ever in the mood to drop best-sellers, pulp fiction, and pretentious blah blah, and lose yourself in a Really Good Book, try World's Fair.

2 comments: said...

I can't help but giggle when even this great editor gets tripped up by her auto-correct: "puzzled ruinations"! What a lovely idea! And thanks for pointing me to my next good read.

Nina Rimon Davis said...

Thanks for pointing this out; I've corrected it.
And as I always say -- you need a fresh, objective eye to edit or proofread anything you write. This time I didn't.

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