Susan Heim's Reviews > All the Time in the World: New and Selected Stories

All the Time in the World by E.L. Doctorow
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's review
Feb 15, 2011

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bookshelves: 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 fell into the rhythm of the exchanges and could tell who was conversing and who said what. But there were just as many times where I would get lost and think what the heck is going on?, who's talking?, who said that? So the first time through reading the stories, I could hardly enjoy them because I was trying so hard to understand them. Of the dozen stories there were five that I liked quite a bit right off the bat (Heist, Walter John Harmon, A House on the Plains, Jolene: A Life, and The Writer in the Family). Then the second time around a few more grabbed me. So really, I was left with only one, (Liner Notes: The Songs of Billy Bathgate) that I just didn't like. Perhaps that particular story assumes some knowledge of Doctrow's book about Billy Bathgate which I haven't read - I couldn't tell whether or not that is the case because it was just too confusing to even try and figure out! So this collection of short stories is best taken in small doses and then reflected upon and read again.

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