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A superb collection of fifteen great stories by an American master, E. L. Doctorow—the author of Ragtime, The March, The Book of Daniel, and Billy BathgateIn “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 eA superb collection of fifteen great stories by an American master, E. L. Doctorow—the author of Ragtime, The March, The Book of Daniel, and Billy BathgateIn “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 brilliant 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....

Title : doctorow collected stories
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ISBN : 30744704
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Number of Pages : 336 Pages
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doctorow collected stories Reviews

  • Angela M
    2018-11-27 21:55

    3.5 stars This wasn't perfect for me but it's more on me than it was Doctorow. I am not a frequent reader of short stories but I have read and loved most of E.L. Doctorow's novels so I could hardly pass up the chance to read this collection. He passed away last year and I thought that reading these stories would in a small way be a tribute to a writer who has made a significant contribution to American literature. I tend to feel that short stories are well just too short, but I am trying to expand my horizons by trying them. I prefer collections that are compromised of linked stories . These were not but what I did like is the same wonderfully descriptive writing I found in Doctorow's novels. In spite of my issues with short stories just not giving me enough , the fact that I wanted to know more and that I connected with some of these characters attests to his amazing way of making you care about the characters. "The Hunter" about a teacher in a failing mill town left me wanting to know more about what happens to her and her students and the town. "The Writer in the Family" left me wanting to know what happened to Jonathan when he grows up. "Jolene", probably felt the most complete to me. I felt the biggest connection to " Liner Notes : The Songs of Billy Bathgate " because I loved the novel. "A House on the Plains" was quite a story about a swindling, pretty treacherous con woman and her son. With this I was left once again feeling I wanted to know the fate of the son. These are a few that impressed me the most and made me glad that I had read this because it reminded me of what a great writer Doctorow was . I received this ARC from Random House Publishing Group - Random House through NetGalley.

  • Mariano Hortal
    2018-11-30 20:44

    Publicado en http://lecturaylocura.com/cuentos-com...Cuentos completos de E. L. Doctorow. Descubrimiento póstumoEl 21 de julio de este año nos dejó el escritor norteamericano Edgar Lawrence Doctorow; mi relación hasta ese momento no llegó ni a turbulenta, estaba basada en la indiferencia, haber oído hablar de él y, sin embargo, no haber probado ninguna de sus obras, novelas por las que era mundialmente conocido. Su muerte desencadenó (como nos ocurre tantas veces) mi acercamiento a su obra, aunque de una manera poco ortodoxa: a través de sus cuentos.Da la casualidad que en el momento de su fallecimiento la editorial Malpaso estaba preparando una recopilación de todos sus cuentos como se indica al principio de la antología en una nota aclaratoria:“E. L. Doctorow murió el 21 de julio de 2015 cuando se corregían las pruebas de este volumen. Durante las semanas anteriores colaboró generosamente con Malpaso para perfilar los detalles de una edición (la primera de todos sus cuentos en cualquier lengua) que esperaba con enorme interés. Ya no podrá verla, pero sirva este libro de homenaje póstumo al gran escritor norteamericano.”Hablaba sobre lo poco ortodoxo de mi acercamiento y lo hacía fundamentado en el buen prólogo de Eduardo Lago, donde el escritor en primer lugar habla sobre las diferencias entre cuentos cortos y novelas a la hora de narrar:“En un intento de explicar en qué consiste exactamente la diferencia entre la distancia corta y la larga a la hora de narrar, Doctorow puntualizó que en tanto que una novela es el comienzo de una prolongada exploración, el cuento es un organismo vivo que cuando llega al terreno de la imaginación lo hace de manera súbita y con sus rasgos ya perfectamente formados. La distinción, con ser sugerente, no alcanza a explicar la elusiva magia inherente a la manera de fabular de Doctorow, cuyos entes narrativos nunca parecen tener del todo claro lo que son. La publicación de un volumen como el que el lector tiene en sus manos es de una importancia superlativa por dos razones. La primera, que los cuentos de Doctorow, con ser de una calidad excepcional, jamás habían sido reunidos en un solo volumen, ni siquiera en inglés. La segunda, que el escritor del Bronx goza de un inmenso prestigio como autor de algunas de las mejores novelas norteamericanas de las últimas décadas, pero su labor como cuentista ha pasado prácticamente desapercibida.”Para, al final de dicha reflexión, referirse en segundo lugar a lo atípico que es acercarse a los cuentos de Doctorow teniendo en cuenta que su fama se fundamenta en la calidad de sus obras largas; se esfuerza Lago en definir la sensación que produce está lectura y señala un detalle primordial: la ordenación de los relatos a gusto del propio autor en una lógica solo comprensible por él:“Leer un cuento de Doctorow es una experiencia estética un tanto desasosegante. No falta nada en estos relatos, y sin embargo dejan en el lector una desazón muy profunda, como si exigieran que ocurriera algo más, cosa que de hecho sucede, sólo que, extrañamente, fuera de la página.A efectos de esta edición, la ordenación de los relatos completos de Doctorow la estableció el propio autor poco antes de morir, y no coincide exactamente con la de los volúmenes en que aparecieron de manera originaria, sino que obedece a una lógica superior que solo su creador fue capaz de ver. En este sentido resulta altamente significativo que se respete la profunda unidad que constituyen los relatos integrantes de la segunda colección de cuentos de Doctorow, uno de los volúmenes más perfectos salidos de su pluma.”Acaba definiendo al autor como algo muy distinto en base a esta experiencia lectora; es curioso porque repasando esto me quedo con esa sensación desconcertante:“[…] en ellos hay algo que no se manifiesta de la misma manera en las novelas mayores. Para decirlo de manera sumaria, como autor de relatos breves, Doctorow fue un escritor más directo, poético y fugaz; más emotivo y cercano; más íntimo y elusivo; más profundo y misterioso; y, a la postre, mucho más desconcertante. Como se ha recalcado, nunca antes había existido en ningún idioma la posibilidad de adentrarse sin restricciones en lo más hondo del lado secreto de la imaginación de un cuentista excepcional que da la casualidad de que se llama exactamente igual que un novelista a quien llevábamos muchos años leyendo con admiración: Edgar Lawrence Doctorow.”A pesar de que no haya una unidad de estilo ni temática en ellos, esta recopilación da la impresión de desprender una amalgama de historias desconcertante; parece más un ciclo vital de cuentos que una recopilación de relatos individuales. Incluso me atrevería a que el ritmo “in crescendo” en cuanto a su calidad suponen una especie de relato de formación del autor tanto como persona como artista. Cada fragmento configura un avance parcial, de ahí esa sensación incompleta que va tendiendo a completarse según avanzas en la antología.Me quedo con algunos fragmentos que refuerzan este sentimiento, como en “Glosas a las canciones de Billy Bathgate” en la que un niño le sirve para reflejar su infancia, los recuerdos de una calle, el sabor de un momento:“Mientras el niño va olisqueando vidas ajenas al pasar ante las casas del barrio, distinguiendo el olor de las naranjas del de los quesos, los pollos, el pescado y los zapatos nuevos hechos con materiales baratos, debe vigilar con pericia lo que tiene detrás y lo que tiene delante. Solo lleva seis o siete años en este planeta, pero ya es víctima de los chicos mayores (negros, irlandeses, italianos) que acechan, merodean y pinchan, invisibles como las agujas de zurcir; de los policías; del encargado de vigilar a los niños que hacen novillos; del Castigo, que le tira de las orejas para arrastrarle de vuelta al orfanato que está a varias colinas de distancia, a varios valles profundos (muy profundos) de distancia, con ascensos y descensos demasiado empinados, demasiado angostos para unos zapatos de goma tan pequeños, para unos calcetines tan caídos, desmadejados.”Consciente de que lo sensorial es imprescindible para sentirse integrado en una sociedad que te deja abandonado en un solipsismo inevitable y determinista:“Si a un hombre le quitas la capacidad de sentir, acabará inventando sus propias sensaciones; si le quitas la vista y el oído y no le dejas oler y ni tocar nada, verá, oirá, olerá y sentirá lo que su mente imagine. Esto demuestra que nacemos condenados a la soledad, que nacemos con hambre de mundo y sin poder compartir esa hambre, y que nuestro corazón rebosa soledad y que esa soledad inunda el mundo, y lo empapa hasta que la primavera de los corazones solitarios se queda sin sangre y entonces ese río nuestro se seca.”De “Jolene: Una vida” aprendemos que la vida cambia en un instante y casi sin que nos demos cuenta, avanzamos, evolucionamos, nos formamos para lo que está por venir, aunque cueste:“Tenía más de mil dólares en el cajón de su mesilla de noche. Sabía que con el tiempo podría reclamarlos si estaba dispuesta a dejarse interrogar por la policía, pero nada de lo que pudiera sucederle sería tan malo como lo que le sucedería si asumía ese riesgo. Aun cuando no les dijera nada, ¿qué efecto tendría Sal’s Line en las posibilidades de que ella llegara a su decimonoveno cumpleaños que, causalmente era al día siguiente? Él no estaba allí para decírselo.Y así es como cambia la vida, igual que azota el rayo: en un instante lo que era ya no es lo que es y te encuentras sentado en una roca al borde del desierto, con la esperanza de que pase un autobús y se compadezca de ti antes de que te encuentren allí muerta como un animal cualquiera atropellado en el asfalto.”De hecho, en “Wakefield” ahonda en la inconsciencia de las decisiones, en que quizá no estemos tan libres como creemos para hacerlo:“La gente dirá que dejé a mi mujer y supongo que, si nos atenemos a los hechos, eso es lo que hice, pero ¿dónde estuvo la intencionalidad? En ningún momento tuve el propósito de abandonarla. Si acabé en el desván del garaje, con todos los muebles viejos y los excrementos de mapache, fue por una serie de circunstancias anómalas –y es así como empecé a abandonarla, sin saberlo, claro está-, pese a que bien habría podido entrar por la puerta como venía haciendo a diario después del trabajo a lo largo de los catorce años y dos hijas de nuestro matrimonio.”Lo que sí está claro es que la decisión puede no ser entendible a primera vista, pero a larga escala, como todos estos cuentos en un conjunto, forman parte de la transformación que se opera en ti mismo, sólo se podrán entender más adelante:“Cualquier puede tener un cambio radical de parecer, eso está claro, y no veo, pues, por qué algo así, junto con todo lo demás, habría de ser impropio de mí. ¿Acaso no podía un hombre, después de una vida responsable y conforme a las reglas, verse de pronto arrancado de su rutina y distraído por un ruido en su jardín trasero y apartarse entonces de una puerta para entrar por otra como primer paso en la transformación de su vida? Y he ahí en qué me transformé, algo que no concuerda precisamente con la idea de perfidia masculina al uso.”Es quizás ese determinismo, esa incapacidad de elegir tu propio destino ante los eventos que se sucede, lo que subyace en cada narración como es el caso de “Integración” donde el autor dota al destino de un papel sagrado venga de donde venga:“Da igual que el matrimonio lo hayan concertado los padres o un dios borracho […] y que todo se haga por motivos equivocados: da igual. Sea por mediación de la familia o sea por un deseo de ir a vivir a otro país, la cuestión es que subyace el mismo hecho misterioso, actuando a modo de destino. Y una vez consumado, ya no puede haber nada más.”Lo que está claro es que está sensación no es placentera para el lector, que se enfrenta a momentos que no entiende, momentos que le incomodan, hay un deje particularmente negativo que el autor utiliza una y otra vez para contener lo vital de cada persona; en “La legación extranjera” podemos asistir a otra metáfora de este estilo donde la casa, el hogar, normalmente asociado a lo cotidiano y a la seguridad de cada persona se convierten en receptáculos de vida, contenedores de dicha pulsión, ¿un eufemismo de tumbas?“Pero por fuera no se notaba que allí hubiese pasado nada de particular. La casa estaba siempre silenciosa, la puerta cerrada, el coche aparcado en la calzada.Las casas estaban hechas para contener la explosión vital de la gente de la misma manera que las bombas neutralizan las cestas de red de acero de los artificieros de la policía.”El fantástico relato final, “Vidas de los poetas”, nos lleva a una vida literaria que, puede ser que el autor no viviera de una manera tan vital como podríamos esperar, sus palabras, como todos los cuentos que llevan a este momento nos llevan a una falta de autenticidad de los creadores literarios; estaba hablando de él mismo o del mundo que lo rodeaba pero esa definición de la fama de los escritores era ciertamente indicativa de un desencanto latente:“Bueno, pues, anoche, como me sentía muy fastidiado, me decidí a ir a la fiesta de presentación del libro de Crenshaw en el Dakota. Lo que yo quería era sentirme bien y recordar lo que hacemos. Mi estimado colega se ha dado cuenta de que para conservar fama de leyenda literaria le basta con escribir cada tres o cuatro años una novela floja pero llena de circunlocuciones y conseguir que den fiestas en su honor en salones famosos. Es increíble, se cree con derecho a los honores y los consigue.”Los cuentos de Doctorow nos llevan al descubrimiento de un autor diferente tanto del resto, como de su propia obra novelística, y, francamente, es una antología de relatos muy sólida y satisfactoria a pesar de las dificultades que sientes al leerlas. Todo un logro para la editorial Malpaso y para nosotros, los lectores, que somos los que disfrutamos finalmente.Los textos provienen de las traducciones de Gabriela Bustelo, Carlos Milla Soler, Isabel Ferrer Marrades y Jesús Pardo de Santayana de Cuentos completos de E. L. Doctorow en la edición de Malpaso.

  • Lorilin
    2018-12-15 00:41

    I'm a big fan of E.L. Doctorow's novels, so I was really excited to check out this collection of his short stories. FYI, all the stories have been previously published elsewhere (but they were new to me). Sadly, the stories didn't live up to my expectations. One thing I really love about Doctorow is his ability to build unique, layered, believable worlds. Ragtime is a good example of this. But the stories here don't really showcase that strength. In fact, I'd say most of the stories are very one-dimensional, even boring. The characters just aren't fleshed out and the settings feel incomplete. I also wish the writing style and quality had been more consistent. For example, Willi, the first story in the collection (and one of my least favorites), is written in a stream-of-consciousness style, which is very atypical of Doctorow. I just didn't like it.There were a few gems in the bunch, though. One of my favorites is The Writer in the Family. In this story, the main character writes letters to his grandmother on behalf of his recently deceased father, trying to convince her that his father (her son) isn't dead. (His aunts are afraid that the news of their brother's death would be so shocking that it would kill their mother.) I loved the story. The painful family dynamic is so perfectly and believably described, and the internal conflict that the main character feels is nuanced but very true-to-life. But I'm not sure these few good stories "save" the book. If you're already familiar with Doctorow's works, you will probably get a kick out of checking these stories out. For those who are new to his writings, though, definitely skip this one and read Ragtime or Billy Bathgate instead.ARC provided through Amazon Vine.See more of my reviews at www.BugBugBooks.com.

  • Elizabeth (Alaska)
    2018-12-06 23:55

    As the description indicates, this is a collection of 15 stories selected by Doctorow. I think the stories are presented in the order in which they were written, but I'm not sure. As is usual for me, I interspersed my reading of them with my other reading, often only one story at a time, sometimes two. They are varied as to time and place.My favorite is the first story, Willi about a young boy on a farm who sees something he is not intended to see. Even though he is a farm boy, it seems by doing so he lost his innocence but not his virginity. Not often are we given a con woman, but there she is in A House on the Plains. Edgemont Drive had me googling the address of the house in California where I grew up - just because I spent my childhood there. I loved that house. I didn't remember that Heist was the nucleus of his novel City of God until coming back and rereading this description but I have it on my wish list and I'll be glad to get the "longer" version.As with any collection there are favorites and those less appealing. With all, however, is Doctorow's strong prose, his willingness to give us interesting characters in settings other than New York where I have previously encountered him. Oh yes, New York is there, just not constantly there. In each of the stories, the setting is integral to the story.I was excited to see this forthcoming collection at NetGalley and thank them and Random House for the privilege of reading it prior to publication.

  • Chadwick
    2018-11-16 21:45

    Two of the very first "grown-up" novels I read as a young man were RAGTIME and THE BOOK OF DANIEL, and the former remains one of my favorite novels. It's no exaggeration to say that E. L. Doctorow had an enormous impact on my reading (and thinking) life. A new novel from Doctorow was always an event, even if some were disappointments (especially in recent years).I came to his short fiction later in life, and only slowly came to appreciate his work in that medium. His stories weren't entirely successful for me, and I will always believe that novels were his strong suit. But from time to time a Doctorow story would smack me in the face and demand my appreciation. Some of his best stories continue to resonate with me. That's why I was so pleased to see this new collection of 15 stories, which he personally selected and revised before his death last year. SWEET LAND STORIES was Doctorow's best collection for me -- a dark take on the American dream, reminiscent of Ray Carver. So I was glad to see it well represented here, especially with "Jolene: A Life" (a bitter masterpiece) and the very funny "Baby Wilson."On the whole, it's a fine collection that spans his entire career and, as we continue to mourn his loss, it's a volume that allows us to pay tribute to his prodigious imagination and skill. The stories are honest and powerful, and his sly wit is always present. It was a pleasure to read them all: the old favorites and those I encountered for the first time; those that sang to me and those that fell a bit flat.I found myself wishing there had been an introductory essay: something that walked us through his career and provided some context to the collection. I suppose the stories will have to speak for themselves, and that's not such a bad thing. It's fine work. (Thanks to Random House for an advance e-galley. Receiving a free copy did not affect the content of my review.)

  • Donna Davis
    2018-11-29 00:10

    EL Doctorow died last year, and the literary world—well, at least the English-speaking part of it—mourned. I know I did. He was one of the finest writers ever to grace the planet, and so when I spotted this collection of stories, even though I understood that I had probably read most or all of them already I snapped it up. Thanks go to Net Galley and Random House for the DRC, which I received free in exchange for this honest review. The collection will be available to the public November 1.I am bemused by “The Writer in the Family”; I had read it before, but it’s worth reading again. Families are complicated, and Doctorow deftly creates a deeply dysfunctional dynamic with this one. Check out the premise: “In 1955 my father died with his ancient mother still alive in a nursing home. The old lady was ninety and hadn’t even known he was ill. Thinking the shock might kill her, my aunts told her that he had moved to Arizona for his bronchitis…And so it came about that as we mourned him in our stocking feet, my grandmother was bragging to her cronies about her son’s new life in the dry air of the desert.”But Grandma can’t understand why her son isn’t writing to her; this will never do. Thus the aunts approach the protagonist. “You’re the writer in the family,” they open, and then present the obligation to him, that he must forge a letter to Grandma from his late father. The aunts will go to the nursing home and read it aloud to her; all he has to do is write something. And of course one letter isn’t enough; there must be more, more, more, and so even as he is grieving his father’s loss, our protagonist, the good son, nephew, grandson that doesn’t make waves, is required to plagiarize one letter after another in his father’s name, until a shift alters the equation.Because Doctorow wasn’t just any writer, I visited his Wikipedia page before writing this review, and I learned that his first name was Edgar and that he was named for Edgar Allan Poe; he was expected to become a writer. I trust his parents were satisfied. At the same time, I found myself wondering how many times he had been told that since he was the writer in the family, it was up to him to do this, that, the other. All speculation, of course, but they say to write what you know, and perhaps to some extent, he did. On my actual bookshelves, the ones made with wood and that have books made of cardboard, cloth, and paper on them, I have half a shelf devoted to this writer’s work, and so when I downloaded this DRC, I went and retrieved the collection of his short stories that I already owned (and paid for), All the Time in the World, which was published in 2011. I wanted to see what difference there was. I found that this new collection has two stories I hadn’t read before, and so that was where my focus began. For those that also already have this author’s complete works up to now, the new short stories are “Baby Wilson” and “Child, Dead, in the Rose Garden”. The other difference is that the short story on which his outstanding novel The Waterworks is based is presented here. That one is short indeed, and it’s strong enough that it’s easy to see why he selected it to expand into novel form (which I highly recommend). Ordinarily I would say that I’d have been annoyed had I paid full jacket price for this one, with a dozen reprinted short stories I already own; the premise for a novel I already own; and two lonely stories that are new to me. But this is Doctorow, and so my rules are different. Were I not a book blogger and able to get a DRC, I would probably wait for this one to turn up in used bookstores so that I could buy it on the cheap, but one way or another, I would have to have it. And to be sure, both stories—though maybe not good choices for the pregnant reader, given that they involve a dead child and an abducted newborn—are absolutely brilliant. Baby Wilson in particular builds irresistibly and is a masterpiece, but the voice in the Rose Garden story is guaranteed to produce chills. I also reread my old favorites, among them “Walter John Harmond”. Whoa. As always, Doctorow’s writing is hyper-literate. If you try to read this while doing something else, you will be lost, and I don’t recommend it to anyone for whom English is not the mother tongue unless the reader is so steeped in the language as to be comfortable with heavy literary fiction. Don’t try to skim; savor it. Highly recommended to the fluent reader that loves great literary fiction. Note: Random House has moved the pub date back; look for this early in 2017.

  • Carolyn
    2018-11-24 23:52

    Marked this as "read" but really read only a couple of stories. Got it to read "Wakefield", from which a movie with Bryan Cranston was recently released. Now eager to see the movie; the story was quite enticing. Someday will go back to read other stories. ELD is a favorite of mine, but I prefer novels to short stories. Someday ...

  • Sharon
    2018-11-27 02:48

    Compelling and well written short stories by the master himself.

  • Aisling
    2018-11-20 00:45

    This is a great and comprehensive collection. I prefer Roald Dahl for short stories; there's just a little more punch. But Doctorow is an excellent writer and a pleasure to read.

  • Pablo Garcinuño
    2018-12-14 00:01

    Descubrir a Doctorow a través de este libro ha sido un placer. Su estilo, sencillo y desesperado, es un hallazgo que recomiendo a cualquier lector. La realidad americana, la que se oculta tras el brillo de las cosas, queda reflejada en estos relatos tan bien editados por Malpaso. Una joya, creanme. Hay tres cuentos que me han dejado muy tocado, aturdido. 'Bebé Wilson', 'Walter John Harmon' y 'Wakefield'. No sé cómo describirlos. Que alguien los lea y me ayude.

  • Eric
    2018-12-06 01:46

    uneven. some good stuff.

  • ej cullen
    2018-11-17 18:41

    Doctorow is always worth reading even if his rep is a bit overblown as acme of the fiction form.

  • John
    2018-11-30 00:10

    Got to read "Wakefield" but only a few of the other stories interested me.

  • Counsel182
    2018-12-11 20:58

    His novels are better.

  • Ellen Trufant
    2018-11-27 03:07

    I love how diverse these stories are. The settings and characters are singular, though the themes are all about people striving for success.

  • Francisco
    2018-12-01 23:45

    3,5

  • Martie Nees Record
    2018-12-15 01:51

    Publication Release Date: January 10, 2017Publishers: Random HouseWe lost the great American writer E.L. Doctorow last July, 2015. I remember him most for his award-winning novels “Ragtime” (1975), “Billy Bathgate” (1989), and “The March”, (2005). This book is a collection of fifteen stories, written from the 1960s into the early twenty-first century. The Goodreads blurb explains that Doctorow selected, revised, and placed them in order for this book shortly before his death. I know the author only as a historical fiction writer however in this collection I see that he could be stellar in any genre. I knew most of the stories but here are two that I never read before: “Jolene: A Life” and “A House on the Plains”.“Jolene: A Life” takes place in current times. The protagonist is a 15 year old girl who marries to escapes her abusive home life. Unfortunately her adult life is just as sad as her youth; she does a stint in the loony bin, she becomes a topless dancer, she loses custody of her child and nothing really ever gets better for her. And yet through all of this somehow Doctorow manages to keep hope alive for his character. Okay, maybe her hope is magical thinking, but surprisingly, I did not feel depressed after I finished reading about her sad life. The story ends leaving the reader scratching their head and smiling at the comic tragedy of Jolene’s life and her never-ending quest for something better. I recently learned that this short story was turned into a film. I intend to find and stream it.“A House on the Plains” occurs in the early 1900s. It is narrated by an 18 year old son of a very shady mother. The dull-witted son slowly reveals his mother as a femme fatale. The reader gets the pleasure of watching Mama, who now insists that her son call her Aunt in an attempt to appear younger, make the change from city life to country life. Mama undertakes an elaborate scheme to reinvent herself in a positive image as a widow. She brings into her home foster children and demands they call her mama (while her son still calls her aunt) to help enable her into tricking Nordic immigrants into a bogus land partnership. The story is one long and very dark joke filled with crime as well as a coating of laughter.I think both of the above stories have similar qualities that we can find in Doctorow’s “Baby Wilson" (also in the book) where a couple kidnap a child. Both absorb some of the other’s madness which becomes random craziness that somehow all works out fine. Again, classic Doctorow, this is a sorrowful tale yet the reader cannot stop smiling. There is nothing I could possibly write to capture the brilliance of this beloved author. When you are in the mood to do some serious thinking in between chuckles, read this collection of short stories by a master. I am very glad that I did.Find all my reviews at https://books6259.wordpress.com/

  • Kristen
    2018-12-15 21:59

    This latest (and posthumous) volume of E.L. Doctorow's short stories is a collection of some of the author's better-known pieces that have appeared in various journals and earlier books. Although they may seem familiar to Doctorow fans, they're worth revisiting, just to see the author's skill at inhabiting different centuries, social classes, and locations. I particularly liked some of the longer stories, including "Jolene: A Life," about an orphan who goes in and out of state institutions before rolling through a series of men and marriages that send her skittering across the country. "Baby Wilson" covers similar territory, as a couple living on the fringes travels from California to Nevada trying to figure out how to return an infant the woman has kidnapped. Other pieces, like "The Writer in the Family" and "Child, Dead in the Rose Garden" are shorter and tighter. They covered some of Doctorow's favorite themes, including New York families and murder mysteries. I was less enthusiastic about "Liner Notes: The Songs of Billy Bathgate" (even though I loved the book), "Walter John Harmon," and "Willi." Although they all stand up well as short stories, I kept wondering if they were drafts that never made it into larger novels. (Review copy courtesy of NetGalley.)

  • Patricia
    2018-11-15 22:01

    Like any collection of short stories, some you like and some are not to your liking. Over all Doctorow is a talented writer. He is gone now but I would have liked to hear a lecture by him or take a class with him. He has different approaches to his writing which makes it interesting. I recommend the book over all.

  • Cecilia
    2018-11-27 23:08

    I am familiar with Doctorow's work (namely Billy Bathgate & Ragtime), but wasn't sure what to expect from these short stories. I found it a little slow going through the first four stories, but it really picked up around "Jolene: A Life," and captivated me from there to the end. From a desperate teen housewife to a cuckold cult follower, a stolen baby to a runaway husband, these stories stole into my heart and won't soon be forgotten. Doctorow has an enticing way of making really simple ideas/sentences beautiful with the turn of a particular phrase or the unexpected originality of a character's thinking. I was quite charmed by this set of short stories and would recommend it to anyone; be they familiar with Doctorow's works or newcomers to this American treasure. This book was given to me by NetGalley in return for my honest review.

  • Bonnye Reed
    2018-11-28 21:08

    GNab I received a free electronic copy of this collection of short stories from Netgalley, the late E. L. Doctorow, and Random House Publishing. Thank you all, for sharing your work with me. A couple of these stories felt familiar, but for the most part they were new to me. As usual, I find E. L. Doctorow impossible to put down - these stories touch you whether you like it, or not. This is an author who will be truly missed in my neck of the woods. I enjoy an author who can make me see things from an unexpected viewpoint....Pub date Jan 10, 2017

  • Bill Wells
    2018-12-09 00:40

    I was not as excited about this collection as I thought I would be. I loved "Ragtime" and "Waterworks", but I didn't really connect with the narrative in the short stories.

  • Anita Tally
    2018-12-14 01:00

    I read some of these stories in an early publication of his short stories, SWEET LAND STORIES, which I checked out from the library on the cruise ship while we were sailing the Baltic in 2014. Doctorow is a great story-teller and is becoming one of my favorite authors. This collection I checked out from Missouri Libraries-To-Go, which is the greatest thing since sliced bread! In this collection, "Heist" is my favorite.

  • Lucy Meeker
    2018-12-10 22:43

    Just finished reading this. There are a few stories that are truly exceptional, but for the most part, the stories are just good. I wanted to love "Doctorow: Collected Stories" but found myself just liking it.I won this book through the Goodreads giveaway.

  • Casey
    2018-12-13 18:45

    I know he's considered one of the greats but I've not generally been charmed. There were a couple of stories in this collection that swept me up, but overall it just didn't grab me.