E. L. Doctorow dies, age 84
E. L. Doctorow, a leading figure in contemporary American letters whose popular, critically admired and award-winning novels — including “Ragtime,” “Billy Bathgate” and “The March” — situated fictional characters in recognizable historical contexts, among identifiable historical figures and often within unconventional narrative forms, died on Tuesday in Manhattan. He was 84 and lived in Manhattan and Sag Harbor, N.Y.
“The consumption of food was a sacrament of success. A man who carried a great stomach before him was thought to be in his prime. Women went into hospitals to die of burst bladders, collapsed lungs, overtaxed hearts and meningitis of the spine. There was a heavy traffic to the spas and sulphur springs, where the purgative was valued as an inducement to the appetite. America was a great farting country. All this began to change when Taft moved into the White House. His accession to the one mythic office in the American imagination weighed everyone down. His great figure immediately expressed the apotheosis of that style of man. Thereafter fashion would go the other way and only poor people would be stout.”
― E.L. Doctorow,
“Emily supposed the modern world was fortunate in the progress of science. But she could not help but feel at this moment the impropriety of male invasiveness. She knew he was working to save this poor woman, but in her mind, too, was a sense of Wrede's science as adding to the abuse committed by his fellow soldiers. He said not a word. It was as if the girl were no more than the surgical challenge she offered.”
― E.L. Doctorow,