Ragtime (E.L. Doctorow, 1975)
I just finished 'Ragtime' by the majestic E.L. Doctorow. This awesome story is staged at the birth of the twenthiest century, an era marked by catalysed tehnology and industry, by strong social and racial tensions, by an overall feeling of innovation as well as of discomfort and uncertainty. The story (or should it be stories, since it is more of an 'ensemble work' than a consistent story) is told from a whole range of different points of view, from the eyes and minds of different characters. It is a very anarchistic book, in that it features as characters historically well-known figures like Harry Houdini, JP Morgan and The Archduke Ferdinand of Austria, but that on the other side the book is sustained by fictional and ordinary, even plebiscite characters. Moreover, these categories continually blend into each other in order to form different narrative lines, now funny, then utterly sad, but always extremely imaginative. All characters seem to be dissatisfied with their life 'as it is' and are in search of a better, richer life where their morals and aspirations may stand a chance. The book screams and shudders, laughs, cries its lungs out, or silently reflects. Whatever its mood, it moves you.
ps: Ragtime was made into a great film by Milos Forman
pps: read Naked Lunch by William Burroughs