Paul's Reviews > Ragtime

Ragtime by E.L. Doctorow
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Nov 22, 13

bookshelves: novels

Today I was thinking of the 101 reasons why I love books, the actual physical papery pagey spiney things with words all over them, and one of the reasons was that they're not machines. Everything i seem to have to do these days is with some kind of machine. At work, of course, chained to the pc - actually it's a laptop on a docking station with two screens, I wonder when they'll add me a third, and although I'm emailing and talking to people all day long (sexy voiced nurses from France and Argentina and Ohio some of the time) still it's all software this, click here, upload that, database, gateway, you know. Then when you're home and you want to have a nice time watching somebody's life go off the rails and everything go to hell in a hand basket - let's say season three of Breaking Bad - it's dvd time, I haven't got with the streaming thing yet, still old fashioned, but that's all technobuttons and three remote controls for some reason. Enough of that - let's listen to some pre-war hillbilly or some French 60s stuff I got recently - iPod, more machinery - everything digitised, everything turned into waves and dots and Hoggs Bison particles.

But not books. No downloading, no clicking, no batteries, no booting up. You open it, and there it is, working for you. You can drop it on rugged terrain from a height of - well, any height - I bet you could sling a paperback off a fifty storey tower block and still read it after it landed - unless it landed on a passing pedestrian and brained them and had to be bagged as evidence. Books are almost indestructible. I left one out in the rain once. Didn't matter. I dried it out over a two week period and aside from a little crinkling, you couldn't tell. Books are tough customers. They can take it. Not like iPods. They can't take it. Try throwing one of those from a speeding car.

They're trying to turn books into machinery. Not my books. Might be good for the new generation of teenage cyborgs sprouting up, who'll never know the joy of shelves, but I like the heft of the thing in your fist - or your delicate spindly sensitive fingers, of course.

I thought Ragtime was the bees' knees, the cat's miaow and the turtle's lambada. I couldn't see that it was possible to dislike this novel . I wanna read it again.
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Comments (showing 1-12 of 12) (12 new)

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message 1: by Ian (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ian Paganus I enjoyed this at the time, but wonder what I would think now.


message 2: by Jason (new) - added it

Jason Koivu This review is bullshit!…Sexy-voiced Ohioans don't exist!


message 3: by Magdelanye (new) - added it

Magdelanye Liked what you say here about dear old paper books...but where is the like button_


message 4: by Shayan (new) - added it

Shayan @Magdelanye: Click on "see review" then you'll see a like button


message 5: by Sketchbook (new)

Sketchbook Bravos to your praise of "real" books, paper and binding to be held in one's hand.


Paul they smell better than Kindles too. Jason, you're right, I meant Alabama.


message 7: by Linda (new)

Linda Ditto on your books sentiments. The only eBooks you'll catch me reading are the free classics, and even then only reluctantly, because I have an iPad and don't want to squander the iBooks app. Gimme the paper ones anytime.


Sarah (Warning: Potentially Off-Topic) I love paper books, I love ebooks, I love this review.

I never really thought before about the value of being able to drop books from heights. My sister did throw Villette out of a third story window once and it was just fine (much to her chagrin). I don't think she would have tried that with her Kindle.


message 9: by Andrea (new)

Andrea Another highly entertaining review, fellow paper lover. But I do hope you won't be putting any actual books to the crash test. ;-o


message 10: by Paul (new) - rated it 4 stars

Paul only 50 Shades of Grey! I believe that book would enjoy some rough treatment.


message 11: by Jan (new)

Jan Rice I love books. But this one I read too long ago and wasn't able to appreciate properly.


message 12: by Stephanie (last edited Nov 26, 2013 10:04AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Stephanie Sun Creativity! Where would we be without it?

I wish I could find the actual text of Doctorow's ranty rant. If you know where it is send it my way.


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