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Ragtime by E.L. Doctorow

Ragtime really surprised me. Upon diving in I considered my mental endurance for pretension, lofty language, and droll tendencies. It turns out endurance was not needed. This novel was a fast and exciting read for me. It is a masterful exploration of the culture of a time through the composition of true and untrue events, people, and places. The language is modern and relatable while also capturing the atmosphere of the time. Author E.L. Doctorow’s writing style is super charming, and he produces sentences that halted me in amazement, confusion, and admiration.

The novel’s staying power is remarkable, too. Many of the societal issues in the time period of this novel, 1902-1912, are just as relevant today, and author E.L. Doctorow does an incredible job portraying the effects societal tension can have on the lives of both everyday and prominent individuals. I enjoyed learning over the course of the novel how each character and plot line crossed paths throughout many unforeseen and tricky circumstances.

The third person tense lends itself really well to the rhythm of the novel, which skips around from one plot line to another, occasionally fusing two or three different story lines together to surprise the reader. This book is an absolute joy to read.