Christina's Reviews > City of God

City of God by E.L. Doctorow
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Apr 11, 09

bookshelves: 1001-books-2006-edition, 2009, fiction, 1001-books-combined-edition, library
Read in April, 2009, read count: 1

This book is a puzzle. A puzzle, where you didn't get the box with the picture on it but just had to figure it out for yourself.
For quite a few pages I sat wondering what was going on, how are these fragments related - and is this book a work of genious or a work by a man, who couldn't write a decent novel?
But then it slowly grew on me. The story of the boy in the jewish ghetto during WWII really drew me in and slowly, more and more stories started to make sense and the missing picture started to show.
This book is about a priest who looses the cross in his church, find it in a kind of modern synagogue, meet the rabbi and his rabbi wife, falls in love with her, tries to find a big box filled with a diary from a jewish ghetto - and this is the part of the story that really makes sense to me.
It's told in fragments, jumping in both stories and chronology and you are not always sure which story you are reading or who the person telling the story is.
And then there are other stories - about the big bang, about a man who has a affair with a woman, a boring man who decides to start ending things and starts with a former SS officer. These stories don't really seem to make sense. But do make sense. In the bigger picture.
And then Wittgenstein enters - with fragments inspired both by Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus and Philosophische Untersuchungen. And then the author's bio (the fictional author Everett). And long discussions of religious questions. Well, this last part is almost a given in a book named after Augustine's City of God (which the fallen priest and the author writing about him incidentally discusses and decides to be a good title It does have a certain something you don't get from green pastures.).
And somehow it all makes sense - well, most of it. Somewhat sense. Probably. To someone...
This is a book that demands something of you as a reader - you have to pay attention and closely so to figure out what's going on - and one read is really not enough.
In the end I liked it - I liked it a lot. I loved the WWII story and the attempt to uncover the papers from the ghetto and some of the stories were just so over the top, emotionally touching or just weird that you couldn't help being dragged into this book. And marvel over the author's way of creating his story, this book.
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Reading Progress

04/07/2009 page 69 "Reading this for the 1001 books... group read this month. Haven't quite figured it out yet."
04/08/2009 page 126 "One fragmented book! Fragments about both holocaust, Wittgenstein, The Big Bang - and a stolen brass cross... Not quite sure what I think..."
04/09/2009 page 220 "Almost done - liking it more and more as the author's intentions become more clear and the stories come together."

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