Doc­torow: Col­lect­ed Stories

E. L. Doctorow
  • From the Publisher
December 20, 2016

He has been called a nation­al trea­sure” by George Saun­ders. Doctorow’s great top­ic, said Don DeLil­lo, is the reach of Amer­i­can pos­si­bil­i­ty, in which plain lives take on the cadences of his­to­ry.” This pow­er is appar­ent every­where in these sto­ries: the brav­ery and self-delu­sion of peo­ple seek­ing the Amer­i­can dream; the genius­es, mys­tics, and char­la­tans who offer peo­ple false hope, or an actu­al glimpse of great­ness.

In A House on the Plains,” a moth­er has a plan for finan­cial inde­pen­dence, which may include mur­der. In Wal­ter John Har­mon,” a man starts a cult using sub­terfuge and seduc­tion. Jolene: A Life” fol­lows a teenag­er who escapes her home for Hol­ly­wood on a per­ilous quest for suc­cess. Heist,” the account of an Epis­co­pal priest cop­ing with a cri­sis of faith, was expand­ed into the best­seller City of God. The Water Works,” about the under­bel­ly of 1870s New York, grew into a bril­liant nov­el. Lin­er Notes: The Songs of Bil­ly Bath­gate” is a corol­lary to the renowned nov­el and includes Doctorow’s revi­sions.

These fif­teen sto­ries, writ­ten from the 1960s to the ear­ly twen­ty-first cen­tu­ry, and select­ed, revised, and placed in order by the author him­self short­ly before he died in 2015, are a tes­ta­ment to the genius of E. L. Doctorow.

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