Read Book of Daniel by E.L. Doctorow Free Online
Book Title: Book of Daniel|
The author of the book: E.L. Doctorow
ISBN 13: 9780679736578
Format files: PDF, Epub, DOCx, TXT
The size of the: 373 KB
Date of issue: September 3rd 1991
Reader ratings: 3.6
Loaded: 285 times
Read full description of the books Book of Daniel:
Governing emotion : white-hot anger
Underneath that : confusion (for the characters, for the reader)
Style : I’m EL Doctorow and it’s 1971 and society is caving in and I’m gonna put anything I like in my novel, chunks of political analysis, satires of hippy revolution, childhood memoir, denunciations of the old left, lists of candy bars I once ate. And I'm gonna drop from first person to third person and back again sometimes in mid-sentence. Live with it, baby! This is the way novels are these days,you got to write each one like it might be the last novel ever.
So this is a fictionalised version of the story of the Rosenbergs who were executed for treason in 1953. ELD changes all the names and details around slightly. I would say it’s made up of 30% Daniel’s memories of childhood and the great dramas playing around the heads of him and his sister; 40% the story of the mother & father; and 30% Daniel’s present day life & times - he is now a hippy revolutionary and his sister is in a mental hospital. ELD's daniel is a very nasty young man. You can see why he might have a few chips on his shoulder, but really, he seems quite close to being unbalanced. At many points in this book I wouldn’t have minded throwing the switch myself, so long as uber-angst Daniel was in the chair. This sourest, most rancid of political novels disgorges the most stupid parts of the red scare 50s and the radical hippy 60s into a blender and the gunk we are then served with is poisonous, it reeks with all the least attractive aspects of people, of American people, no one comes out of this shitstorm looking pretty. I had a hard time liking this book. I liked it in short sharp surges, there are sweeps of bristling bellowing rhetoric, but these are usually felched into a rictus of pain by the time you turn the page. If anyone smiles in these 386 pages it’s because someone has died. It’s all a bit angst. Daniel has angst in his pangst.
I like to say to anyone in earshot that the difference between American and British art is that we British have the history but those Americans have the geography. It’s one of my sayings. They have the broad sweep of the present, to match the broad sweep of their land - we have the intricate knowledge of the past. Or : they have the confidence from which we have now withdrawn. Or : they now have the empire which we relinquished. It’s kind of true – look at the fantastic boldness of some American authors with their huge projects to write out the secret (read “real” or “underground”) history of America – DeLillo in Underworld, Ellroy in his trilogies, going back further Vidal in his presidents series. British authors just don’t do that. The Book of Daniel falls into this bold brash genre. So I admire it. I also admire the audacity of ELD – right at the end, when, in classic Hollywood fashion, our flawed hero Daniel is chasing down our deadly villain, the government stooge Mindish, he suddenly stops the narrative for a six page essay on the cultural ramifications of Disneyland. I also admire the large areas which aren’t explored in this novel, like Daniel’s awful treatment of his wife. Loose wires hang out all over the place.
PAUSE FOR THOUGHT
This novel’s present is 1967, twelve years after the execution of Daniel’s parents. In the 20th century the speed of cultural change could be breakneck, and often skews my own view of history. The Red Scare was 1947-57 roughly – but a mere eight years later the hippies began and by 1968 everything looked completely different. Within the 1960s, the changes were hectic, irresponsible, giving us all the bends - Beatles yeah yeah moptops in 1963 turning to druggy beardy mystics by 1969; things were common by 1970 which couldn’t have been conceived of in 1960. 12 years separates the past and the present of this novel but it seems like 50. It’s disorientating. Things don’t seem to move so fast these days, or is it me?
It’s not easy to like. You end it feeling like you’ve been yelled at for several hours. Your head is ringing.
Four stars for ambition and for getting the thing done.
Two stars only for enjoyability.
I should compromise with three, then.
Four stars it is.
Read information about the authorE. L. DOCTOROW’S works of fiction include Homer & Langley,The March, Billy Bathgate, Ragtime, the Book of Daniel, City of God, Welcome to Hard Times, Loon Lake, World’s Fair, The Waterworks, and All the Time in the World. Among his honors are the National Book Award, three National Book Critics Circle Awards, two PEN Faulkner Awards, The Edith Wharton Citation for Fiction, and the presidentially conferred National Humanities Medal. In 2009 he was short listed for the Man Booker International Prize honoring a writer’s lifetime achievement in fiction, and in 2012 he won the PEN Saul Bellow Award given to an author whose “scale of achievement over a sustained career places him in the highest rank of American Literature.” In 2013 the American Academy of Arts and Letters awarded him the Gold Medal for Fiction.
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