Ragtime Ragtime discussion

The Structure of the Book

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message 1: by Mdm (new) - rated it 2 stars

Mdm When reading this book, I liked it but I felt the way the chapters were set up were very poorly done and drew me away from the book. They skip from character to character too quickly and I just couldn't stand it. Did anyone else feel this way?

Deborah I found myself asking "What could this possibly have to do with anything?" a lot when I was reading it. Of course it was all pulled together - but it was definitely hard to follow at times.

Sheri Richey This is my all-time favorite book and has been for over 30 years. I absolutely LOVED it! It was the first history mixed with fiction book I had read, very different for it's time, and created a new genre for me that I continue to enjoy. I liked the character changes and having all the pieces come together. I guess I enjoyed everything you didn't. I've read other things written by EL Doctorow hoping for another experience like this, but none of his other works suited me. Ragtime is a book I've never forgotten.

Aaron Hey everyone. Good question. The structure of the novel is very fitting. From Wikipedia:

"The defining characteristic of ragtime music is a specific type of syncopation in which melodic accents occur between metrical beats. This results in a melody that seems to be avoiding some metrical beats of the accompaniment by emphasizing notes that either anticipate or follow the beat ("a rhythmic base of metric affirmation, and a melody of metric denial"). The ultimate (and intended) effect on the listener is actually to accentuate the beat, thereby inducing the listener to move to the music."

If you listen carefully, Doctorow does this with his characters. He plays a handful of stories and leaves it to the reader to determine which belong to the melody and which belong to the metrical beat.

That would be my question for this forum: who is the melody, and who is the beat? Does it ever switch? How does this "move" or influence the reader? And what sort of American Studies insight can be gained from this?

Holly Personally I love a book with lots of characters and storylines.

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