Fans of E. L. Doctorow's Ragtime will recognize the sweeping, historical-mixed-with-fictional style of this sprawling novel about early-20th-century New York, a fitting read as we approach the millennium. Like Doctorow, historian (and chief researcher for Harold Evans's The American Century) Baker hosts a kind of sociological carnival, in which a
What I found was actually quite a surprise. I found myself not interested at all for well over 100 pages, but then all at once realized I was invested in some of the characters. The layout of the chapters confu...more
This is a story of early 20th century New York City and the characters who populated this riveting, tumultuous, and extreme city. There are many characters, actually, and some are real and some are fictional. This is a kind of magic realism historical fiction that combines real events and fantasy in ways that are at once fascinating and bizarre.
Baker’s narrative starts off like a bullet and seldom lets up. He prefaces Book One with a list of “Dramatis Personae, like a Playbill, and it helps set the historical tone. We hear first from Trick the Dwarf, whose fir...more
There are a two drawbacks that should be noted though. First, this book is not for those with weak stomachs: there are...more
The story is told from several points of view, from the dwarf that works at Coney Island to the prostitute that's in love with her pimp, the book is full of great complex characters and interesting events. It veers from gritty violence to newfound love to political manoeverings to union worker uprising...more
Also, don’t be fooled: one of the LC subject headings is the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, but that doesn’t come up until the very end of t...more
Baker's descriptions of turn of the century New York were pretty good and really drew the reader in to the conditions of life at the time. Many times I caught myself thinking of this book or a character from the book throughout my day.
It was long and I felt some parts could have been eliminated but I did enjoy reading this. I will most likely check ou...more
When Baker wrote about Dreamland and Luna Park and Steeplechase, those wondrous marvels of Coney Island, I was entertained. I was less entertained by the passages focused on the political mechinations of Tammany Hall and the corrupt maneuverings of the city councilmen and the police.
I hated every chapter about Freud. Freud? Freud and Jung, to be precise...more
My favorite passage:
"She crept on into the apartment, where everyone else was asleep, her pallet lying already prepared...more
well, that got very complex, not only addressing the beginnings of the garment workers strikes in the lower east side, but chronicling a parti...more
New York City and Coney Island in 1910 is the setting for this sprawling novel with a big imaginative cast of characters. Gyp the Blood is a gangster, Kid Twist works for him until he hits him with a shovel over Trick the Dwarf who takes him in and hids him in an elephant shaped tin hotel in Coney Island. Kid falls for Esther, a garment worker and Gyp's sister. Trick becomes King of the Little City with Mad Carlotta in Coney Island. There is also Big Tim Sullivan, Tammany Hall politicia...more