Vanessa's Reviews > Ragtime

Ragtime by E.L. Doctorow
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Oct 19, 10

it was ok
bookshelves: read-in-2010

Just a matter of taste on this book clearly and I hate that I'm in the minority. The truth is Ragtime just didn't do it for me. Turn of the (20th) century American history is normally fascinating but I found this book only fitfully amusing. I had to push myself HARD to keep reading. It's fun to spot the real-life historical figures-Emma Goldman, Houdini, McKinley, Theodore Dreiser, and so on-but the story (other than the character Coalhouse) just left me with the literary experience of a dial tone. I'd much rather read a non-fiction account of NYC during this time instead.

(and surely I can't be the only one who found Emma Goldman giving a happy ending massage to the infamous chippie Evelyn Nesbitt while her stalker watches from a closet and masturbates creepy, right? Uhm, right?)
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Comments (showing 1-12 of 12) (12 new)

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Dennis I love Ragtime--it flows like music. There must be a book that you love that everyone else despises so that the Law of Conservation of Literary Taste hasn't been violated.


Vanessa It was just ok to me plus there were a number of parts I found... gut-crunching pervy? No one else seemed to mind or notice. I am not a book-burning pearl clutcher damn it. How can it just be me?


Lots of people hate The Unbearable Lightness of Being and its one of my all-time favorites. I'm also the only person who liked the movie Boxing Helena.


Dennis I'll read The Unbearable Lightness of Being and try to loathe it. All will be right between us if I do.

Yes it was just you--at least among the people who matter.

Boxing Helena is in my Netflix queue. I'll have to move it to the top so I can roll my eyes while I watch it. Maybe it'll make me forget Moulin Rouge.


Vanessa For the record, I like musicals (not a surprise I'm sure) but I failed to see the appeal of Moulin Rouge.

Well, don't just prepare to dislike Lightness. It hurts my feelings just a little when people hate that book. Unless Ragtime meant that much to you.


message 5: by Mary (new)

Mary I remember reading Ragtime when it was first published. I very much enjoyed its sprawling narrative.

Loved the 50's b&w version of John Huston's Moulin Rouge (Zsa Zsa Gabor has a great bit part), but didn't get into the Baz Luhrmann version. Am I the only one who doesn't like Nicole Kidman?


Vanessa I don't know why I'm the only one who doesn't get it. Someone accused me of a.) being in a persnickety phase and b.) not taking my literature like a man.

You aren't the only one on Nicole Kidman's acting. I used to think she couldn't act until I saw To Die For which she was perfect in. Same for Cold Mountain. Now I just don't like her performance in that many things.


Dennis I like Nicole Kidman but I'd never see a movie just because she was in it. I'd have to hear good things about it first.

And here I thought Zsa Zsa was just famous for being famous. I never knew she was in anything other than Hollywood Squares.


Jane Mina has to read this over the summer for her AP American History class so I am also going to try to read it. I am hoping she will like it but it doesn't sound promising.


Vanessa She has to read this for school?? What grade is she in now?

Most people love it. I just really didn't.


message 10: by Jane (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jane Mina is going to be a h.s. sophomore in September. She's reading the book for AP American History/Literature (I should say 'read' because she's finished it and is working on the report). Not sure she liked the book as much as she is enjoying the research into the real lives of the characters. She's also reading Arc of Justice. I started that one but it was so clearly written by a college professor, I had to stop. Maybe I shouldn't have read the preface-D.R.Y.


message 11: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl I'm not a "book-burning pearl clutcher" either, but every time I consider reading Ragtime I hear more and more that tells me it's not my kind of book. And, yes, the 'perv-y' stuff you mention reinforces my desire to skip this. So, a sincere thank you.


Vanessa I'm glad to help! Yeah, I was struggling with indifference for the first few chapters, then I got to the Emma Goldman scene and was like, "Ok, I just can't with this."

Oh Emma. We'll always have Reds.


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