World's Fair: A Novel Paperback – Jul 10 2007
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From School Library Journal
YA The 1930s was a turbulent time for America: the Great Depression, left-wing politics and the growing concern over the rise of Hitler in Europe. As seen through the eyes of nine-year-old Edgar Altshuler, these events provide a backdrop for the more intimate story of his own family and how they coped while living in the Bronx. They serve a symbolic purpose as well as a historical one. On his first visit to the fair, Edgar is enthralled by industry's vision of the futuresafe, secure and prosperous cities, speedy and cheap transportation and modern invention to make life easier. On his second visit, he sees that the exhibits are constructed of gypsum whose paint is peeling and that the displays are really toys. Reality has altered Edgar's perceptionshe is growing up. Edgar's chapters are randomly interspersed with his mother Rose's recollections and a few by his older brother Donald to give a seemingly simplistic view of life that is actually a rich narrative of history, political and personal values and points for discussion. A remarkable book for perceptive readers. Diana Hirsch, PGCMLS, Md.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
E. L. Doctorow’s works of fiction include Welcome to Hard Times, The Book of Daniel, Ragtime, Loon Lake, World’s Fair, Billy Bathgate, The Waterworks, City of God, The March, Homer & Langley, and Andrew’s Brain. Among his honors are the National Book Award, three National Book Critics Circle awards, two PEN/Faulkner awards, and the presidentially conferred National Humanities Medal. In 2009 he was shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize, honoring a writer’s lifetime achievement in fiction, and in 2012 he won the PEN/ Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction, 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. In 2014 he was honored with the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction.
From the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
Edgar is an extremely observant child who is fascinated by the intricacies of the most mundane things and events. Normal kid routines like school, ball games, movies, comic books, and radio programs are described in loving detail as though he were eager to explain to his jaded adult readers what's so special about being a kid. Similarly, tragedies like the death of his grandmother, witnessing a woman getting hit by a car, and meeting terminally ill children in the hospital take on perceptively morbid new dimensions through Edgar's words.
The members of Edgar's immediate family are so realistic they seem like sepia-tinted photographs come to life. His father Dave co-owns a music store and, far from being the moral compass a father's role is traditionally given, is somewhat irresponsible and irreverent, a social activist about thirty years ahead of his time. Edgar's mother Rose is a bundle of anxiety, worrisome and contentious from living in a house full of men. His older brother, Donald, and uncle Willy are both musically inclined, one a failed bandleader, the other destined to be a failed bandleader.Read more ›
This book kept me focused from the first few sentences. It doesn't demand a lot from the reader but it delivers a great deal. I suspect that there is a great deal of Doctorow himself in his main character. He was born in 1931, so would have been about the right age to experience the music, radio shows, games and other experiences that make up his protagonist's world. He certainly feels strongly about these simple byegone experiences and manages to convey that to the reader. This is a very satisfying glimpse into the life of ordinary but interesting people and I highly recommend it.
I hope that when I am Doctorow's age I will be able to summon up the wealth of memory detail he does. The images are authentically pressed from a the mind of a child not yet 12 years old. There are things that a child notices that an adult would not, such as how he likes how a particular door latch works or details from favorite comic books.
From there the narrative effortlessly moves to other characters in the story, written in the form of letters to the author. Everything is in place, and all of it wonderful to read.
This should be standard reading for any high school.
Most recent customer reviews
My title seems trite and immature, but I am only using a word the author likes to use to describe others. This shows his own ignorance, which is reflected again in his work.Published on June 29 2004
Like a great painting, Doctorow choses his words carefully, depicting the 30s as the dark, mournful era that it was. Read morePublished on Jan. 22 2003 by Catherine M. Dorkin
This book was very hard to put down once I stared to read it. It's a simple story about a boy growing up in Depression era NYC. Read morePublished on Aug. 5 2002 by lou
For those of you who read Ragtime and were a little disappointed, then World's Fair is the book you should read. Read morePublished on April 3 2002 by firstname.lastname@example.org
I had read Doctorow's "Ragtime" and found it boring. A co-worker had just finished "World's Fair" and urged me to read it. Read morePublished on Oct. 22 2001
I don't think I have ever read a book that was so in tune with feelings I had as a child. Not meaning to be sexist, I had to question whether a woman might have written this book,... Read morePublished on Feb. 4 2001 by S. Griffin
A great time travel experience. Doctorow shows the reader New York City in the '30s as seen by a young boy. Brings the reader into a part of America long past. Read morePublished on Jan. 25 2001 by Scott Blake