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All the Time in the World: New and Selected Stories

3.56  ·  Rating Details ·  387 Ratings  ·  81 Reviews
From Ragtime 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 ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published March 22nd 2011 by Random House (first published 2011)
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Mar 12, 2011 Jill rated it it was amazing
E.L. Doctorow is without a doubt one of the most critically acclaimed authors publishing in America today. He has enthralled me with Ragtime, mesmerized me with Homer & Langley, snapped me to attention with March, and provoked me to think outside of the box with The Book of Daniel.

But even though I’ve periodically read his short stories in The New Yorker, I never quite viewed him as a “short story writer.” Well, after finishing All The Time in the World, that perception has definitely chang
Feb 15, 2011 Charity rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I was very excited to read this one since so many of my Goodreads friends have gushed over Doctorow's work. In fact, I have several of his novels waiting in the wings, but I thought his short stories would give me a nice glimpse of what I could expect from his style. Overall, I thought the book was just okay. As with most short story collections, some stories really stand out more than others. However, I will say that a lot of Doctorow's stories had a dark edge to them that I found intriguing, s ...more
Apr 21, 2011 Bill rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, lit-fiction, 2011
my good friend karen got me a signed copy of this book...i'm so excited! can't wait to read's next on my list.

as i've said before on goodreads, i am not generally a big fan of short stories, as they usually seem to be over before they get anywhere.

this book, however, is an exception for two reasons. firstly, because the stories average around 20 pages long, which is adequate for each story to actually have some plot.and excellent stories they are.

which brings me to the second reason, whi
Jul 30, 2015 Ken rated it it was amazing
I didn't care very much for City of God when I read it around 18 months ago. However, I may have to give it another chance, because Heist, the short story on which it's based, is absolutely brilliant. Perhaps this is just more evidence for my belief that some stories simply work best in the short form. All the stories in this collection are very good, and Doctorow's settings are completely immersive. It's been a while since I visited New York, but within a paragraph or two of his stories, the me ...more
Apr 30, 2011 Tammy rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
My favorite stories:

"House on the Plains" -- 4.5 stars. The darkness of the story is so subtle that it literally sneaks up behind you and smothers you.

"Walter John Harmon" -- 4.5 stars. Exquisite

"Wakefield" -- 4 stars. Very well written and emotionally engaging. Left me thinking, "what an asshole."

"Edgemont Drive" -- 4 stars. Deftly captures the tension in a suburban home.

"Jolene: A Life" -- 4 stars. Beautifully written snapshot.

Roberta (Bobbie)
May 01, 2011 Roberta (Bobbie) rated it liked it
This book represents what I don't like about short story collections. Some of them are great and others far from it. So, it's not a uniform 3 rating, but an average. It's also frustrating that the ones that grab you are over so soon! The writing is certainly elegant.
Donna Davis
When I was a kid, I often bore the distinction of being the second-smartest kid in the class. You’d think it would be an honor, but then, how often do we watch silver medalists at the Olympics stand ashamed, tears streaming, because they were not the very, very best? And so as I read these gob-smackingly brilliant short stories by Doctorow, I know exactly who he would have been in my life. He would have been that smartest kid, that gold medalist. I could never even touch his writing ability with ...more
Gaylord Dold
Dec 11, 2013 Gaylord Dold rated it liked it
Doctorow, E.L. All the Time in the World: New and Selected Stories, Random House, New York, 2011 (277pp.$26)

A great short story is the supernova of fiction, exploding brilliantly, pouring out its light, and then disappearing suddenly in a diaspora of revelation and concealment. Unlike the novel, which, like a marriage, demands commitment despite much boredom and occasional betrayal, and which may end in many different ways, the short story is more like a torrid adulterous affair. Both parties le
Oct 28, 2013 Robert rated it liked it
E.L. Doctorow's new collection of short stories, All the Time in the World, starts out well with a very interesting preface comparing novel writing and short story writing, then wobbles, then gains strength, a lot of it.
Basically Doctorow sees novels as evolutionary and stories as situational. In stories he sees characters in conflict with the world somehow...and there is a continuous path to resolution...or not. Novels? Well, this isn't one of his novels, so let's pass on that.
The first stor
Susan Heim
Feb 15, 2011 Susan Heim rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
This collection didn't draw me in at first but it has stayed with me and gotten even more interesting over time. I enjoy some short stories (You'll Know When the Men Are Gone) (Jumpha Lahiri) but I struggled with these. They were difficult for me because they had some challenging vocabulary but more so because of E.L. Doctrow's writing style. He doesn't use quotes to delineate speech and he doesn't attribute the speech to specific characters with "he said" or "said Joe". There were times when I ...more
Steve Petherbridge
Jul 16, 2014 Steve Petherbridge rated it liked it
I haven't read a lot of the works of EL Doctorow and picked up this collection of short stories in the bargain basement of my local book store in Dublin for €6.99. The blurb and skipping through the book made me buy it.

From what I have read of him, his historical novels are more successful than his writing on contemporary topics and modern America.

I enjoyed these stories and found them not too taxing, reading the book over a couple of days.

Six of the stories here were previously unpublished an
Feb 15, 2011 Frances rated it really liked it
I won this on Goodreads "First Reads" feature, and man I'm a lucky girl! This is a wonderful & dynamic collection of short stories.

My favorites (you can see the range of subjects):
"Assimilation" (Set around now- a young bus boy at Russian restaurant winds up in Green Card marriage with his boss's niece)
"Liner Notes" (Set in the 60s- this story is kind of what the title suggests- the liner notes where the musician explains each song & through that we get a disjointed biography)
"A House o
Apr 03, 2015 Wandering_eneri rated it really liked it
Another random pick during a bookstore trip that proved to be quite an entertaining read. While the reader was down to the last stories of the selection, a sad news broke that Mr. Doctorow has died, making this book more memorable.

It came late, but this discovery of Doctorow's works over the years has been a wonderful experience. Immersing oneself in the lives of his characters made this reader question some of life's truths and accept some lies. At the turn of every page, some scenes made her
Jan 12, 2015 Gilbert rated it it was amazing
Shelves: for-fun
The author received the Library of Congress award for best fiction in 2014. I found this collection of short stories at an unbelievably great price, so I thought I would try him out!

I was definitely blown away. Doctorow is one of those writers that will make you slow down, ponder everything, and make you wonder if you even understood the story's messages at the end of all your reading.

I loved the preface. It helped place a context for all the stories being collected in one book. They are not in
Simone Subliminalpop
Raccolta molto varia per tipologia dei singoli racconti, si passa da una rilettura moderna del classico “Wakefield” di Nathaniel Hawthorne, a episodi più sperimentali come i due in chiusura, quelli però anche meno riusciti a mio avviso.
Compatta invece per lo stile narrativo di E.L. Doctorow, sempre molto preciso, misurato, conscio di cosa vuole dire e come lo deve fare. Ottima soprattutto la scelta dei personaggi e la capacità dell’autore di conoscerli, comprenderli.
In definitiva una buona racco
Feb 15, 2011 Krista rated it really liked it
Admittedly, I love the writing of E.L. Doctorow so I was really excited to read this collection of short stories as I have only read his novels. This collection absolutely did not disappoint. Well...I feel like many of the short stories could have easily become novels and sometimes I found myself wishing for more story, but I truly loved each tale in this collection. There is an overall theme of individuals struggling in solitude in a world that has left them feeling less than and I really conne ...more
Gordon Gravley
Feb 22, 2015 Gordon Gravley rated it it was amazing
It's been a while since I've read a short story, and I've never read Doctorow, so this was very satisfying on both ends. From the start, you can see Doctorow's years of mastering the art of writing; he doesn't break the rules, but rather, he twists and bends them in ways that makes what would be otherwise mundane fiction into something fresh and new. He's an observer of this strange world in which we live. And, like most of his protagonists, he's an outsider, living separate from the norm and tr ...more
Jul 12, 2011 Tiffany rated it it was amazing
"And how can I help thinking everybody I see on the sidewalk is as friendless and alone as I am, that we are total anonymities, talking importantly on our cell phones as we walk along like actors in movies that everyone has to worry over."

My first E.L. Doctorow. Very impressed with his distinctive writing style.

After reading the title story, I looked up 'Synecdoche' in Merriam-Webster. What a doozy of a definition:

Definition of SYNECDOCHE

: a figure of speech by which a part is put for the whole
Edward Fenner
I'm conflicted with this collection. I like some of the stories, the plots, and characters. I'm not happy with Doctorow's lazy use of punctuation or lack thereof. It was off-putting and more than a bit pretentious. I could still follow the stories but I was constantly reminded that it was a story because the usual, standard cues were missing. That aside, Doctorow takes massive liberties with plot and character development by skipping it and assuming the reader will fill in the blanks as they go ...more
Feb 10, 2013 Dena rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 28, 2011 Sonia rated it it was ok
Shelves: short-story
I haven't read any of E.L. Doctorow's novels, so I cannot compare the short stories in this book to his acclaimed novels. Before I read this book, I had several of his novels on my list to read, but I found most of the short stories so depressing (or disturbing) that I will not be reading his novels anytime soon. Most of the short stories are extremely well written and for the most part made me care about the characters. (Which was not necessarily a good thing since nothing good happened to most ...more
Apr 01, 2011 Sarah rated it it was ok
I had high expectations, which was, I think, my downfall.
I enjoy Doctorow's writing style, which is fluid and lovely. But I felt as if I missed the point in many of these stories, or that, worse, there wasn't really a point. Several of the stories seem to be sketches of dark, dreary lives, and I admit I do like some semblence of personal growth, or lessons learned, in characters.
I enjoyed the stories titled Heist, Walter John Harmon, and The Writer in the Family... possibly because these felt
Mar 28, 2011 Tony rated it it was amazing
As usual, I run into the same problem with a short story collection. Doctorow is primarily a master of the longer form, but manages to have his brilliance peek through in many of these pieces. There are twelve short stories in this collection. Most of them have been published previously, with a few now having their first exposure to print. There is no overlying theme that ties the stories together. They are simpl
Jul 23, 2012 Brad rated it really liked it
A lovely collection of short stories from one of my favorite novelists. Each little piece was captivating and inventive. A great way to spend some lazy summer evenings. My favorites: Wakefield, about a married father who runs away from home in the most unusal way; Jolene: A Life, a stirring snapshot of the struggles and triumphs of a young girl; Walter John Harmon, one mans story of his life in a religious cult and All the Time in the World, a troubling tale with an unexpected conclusion. Great ...more
Jun 25, 2016 Cha rated it really liked it
I was caught off-guard.. this is my first Doctorow and I was caught off-guard by the poetic imagery of his text and the Oscar Wildish turn of events. Or for some shorts, the aimlessness that ended with a what-it's-done?!-what-twisted-looney-i-want-more. Last short was particularly a strong finish -- eerie sense of Chuck Palahnuik in Twilight Zone. Another reminded me of Dicken's Great Expectations. Wiki says this collection of shorts is not as strong as his award-winning historical fictions, but ...more
Oct 29, 2012 Diana rated it it was ok
I have never read any of Doctorow's other works, but I agree with some of the other reviewers who say that this was an inconsistent set of stories. I was very struck by the first story of the book, but most of the others were either mildly interesting or forgettable. The stories focus on a wide variety of subjects/characters and there is a dark atmosphere present throughout the book that I liked. These two qualities kept me reading. Unfortunately, nothing impressed me more than the first story. ...more
Craig Evans
Jul 19, 2015 Craig Evans rated it it was amazing
A very good collection of very well written stories from a variety of perspectives. Excellent prose, bordering on the poetic at times which just enhanced the impact to and immersion of the reader into the lives and mind of the characters. I'd read a novel by Doctorow a couple of weeks ago (my sixth of his) and was in the middle of this when I read that he had died. There are a couple others of his that are on my to-read list.
Ben B
Dec 30, 2012 Ben B rated it really liked it
A delightful selection of stories, each of which is a gem. I didn't really see the point of "The Hunter," but I'm sure that's my shortcoming, not Doctorow's. But "Wakefield" and "Edgemont Drive" belong in the canon of American short story for sure. "Assimilation" really makes you think about the lives of immigrants in a different way. The middle stories were all well worth the time invested. And I don't know that I will ever be free of "Jolene" and its haunting.
Jul 20, 2011 Lori rated it liked it
Shelves: 2011july
I somehow thought this was CORY Doctorow when I picked it up, so you could make the argument I set myself up to dislike the book.

The stories were bleak and occasionally poignant, and I enjoyed some (Jolene, Wakefield, Walter John Harmon, the Stephen King-esque A House on the Plains). I appreciated the stark writing throughout. But the best short stories are a window into a world, and I didn't glimpse as much as I'd have liked in here.
Aug 17, 2011 Kathi rated it liked it
I enjoyed most of the stories. My favorite was the first story, I think--a fairly wealthy attorney decides not to return home from work, and hides out in the upstairs of his garage and observe what happens. He watches the chaos and worry of his family, his appearance deteriorates as he lives as a homeless person.

Another is a man who is asked by his boss to marry an immigrant woman. They underestimate him! Ha!

I'll not tell you anything else. Read it yourself!
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E. L. DOCTOROW’S works of fiction include Homer & Langley,The March, Billy Bathgate, Ragtime, the Book of Daniel, City of God, Welcome to Hard Times, Loon Lake, World’s Fair, The Waterworks, and All the Time in the World. Among his honors are the National Book Award, three National Book Critics Circle Awards, two PEN Faulkner Awards, The Edith Wharton Citation for Fiction, and the presidential ...more
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