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It's a good reminder that books, even great books, don't always come from divine inspiration.
To think that we could all have a connection, just a moment really, across several generations: That’s the power of a story. To be fair, EL Doctorow had attended Kenyon when it was a men’s college for serious students who thought the Ivy Leagues were for playboys. After the lecture I went next door to the library to look up just what the hell a “caesura” was, and I found it had closed at midnight. But the one I keep coming back to as a writer is just that moment of Doctorow watching LeFever make an ass out of himself while heckling Robert Frost.
After my first book came out, I told that story in a small lecture back at Kenyon College (I’m no Doctorow).
The most common way to get a formal education is to go to a four year university after completing high school. Turns out "The Sociology of Miley Cyrus: Race, Class, Gender and Media" is just the tip of the iceberg.
Doctorow, autor que gozo de un amplio reconocimiento tanto comercial como de la critica, murio a consecuencia de las complicaciones del cancer de pulmon que padecia, segun confirmo uno de sus hijos. Entre sus obras destacan “Ragtime” y “Billy Bathgate”, que fueron adaptadas como exitosas peliculas de Hollywood; asi como “The March” (La gran marcha) y “The Book of Daniel” (El libro de Daniel). De acuerdo con el diario The New York Times, Doctorow era “ampliamente celebrado por su originalidad, versatilidad y la audacia de su imaginacion”. Antes de emprender su carrera como novelista, Doctorow fue editor de libros, y trabajo con autores como James Baldwin y Norman Mailer. Doctorow Reads from 'The March' In this scene, Wrede Sartorius, a battlefield surgeon in the Union Army, describes life on the march to his lover Emily Thompson. Doctorow, who died on Tuesday at 84, was a former book editor who quit his job as publisher at the esteemed Dial Press in 1969 to concentrate on his own writing. The population customarily gathered in great numbers either out of doors for parades, public concerts, fish fries, political picnics, social outings, or indoors in meeting halls, vaudeville theatres, operas, ballrooms.
Connors' 2005 Slate review of The March and overview of Doctorow's methods of historical fiction. Outlining, researching, talking to people about what you’re doing, none of that is writing. His first three novels were well-received, but the novel that made his career was 1975's Ragtime.
They spilled into the aisles, sitting cross-legged at the largest venue on campus to be wowed by their famous alumnus.
Doctorow, que en una docena de obras de ficcion mezclo de manera brillante la critica social con los acontecimientos historicos, fallecio la noche del martes en Nueva York a los 84 anos de edad. William Tecumseh Sherman's destructive march through Georgia and the Carolinas near the end of the Civil War would make for a gripping work of fiction. His name graced the posters across campus, the advisory board of the Kenyon Review, the numerous titles on display in the library and a special coffee mug available at the bookstore of this bucolic campus an hour plus from Columbus.
Not so in the fall of 2002, while a 70-year-old Doctorow unspooled yet another complex sentence involving then-presidential hopeful John Kerry, the Bhagavad Gita and a couple of things that I had to look up later at the library next door. It’s not how Robert Frost’s heckler derailed their lecture, but how Doctorow used that bit—50 years later—to get his back on track. It’s best to imagine they are all Frank LeFever, doing whatever it is these people did before hacky sacks. But years ago I learned from Doctorow that only you will ever truly know if you’ve written a real story, or if you had just made one up. The carriage was piled with luggage and tied bundles, and as she stood some silver fell to the ground, knives and forks and a silver candelabra, catching in the clatter the few gleams of light from the torch that Roscoe held.

Mattie, still tying her robe, ran down the steps thinking stupidly, as she later reflected, only of the embarrassment to this woman, whom to tell the truth she had respected more than loved, and picking up and pressing back upon her the heavy silver, as if this was not something Roscoe should be doing, nor her husband, John Jameson, neither. She was a badly frightened woman with no concern for her horses, as John saw and quickly ordered buckets to be brought around, as the woman cried, Get out, get out, take what you can and leave, and seemed to be roused to anger as they only stood listening, with some of the field hands appearing now around the side of the house with the first light, as if drawn into existence by it. He burns where he has ridden to lunch, he fires the city in whose clubs he once gave toasts, oh yes, someone of the educated class, or so we thought, though I never was impressed!
No, I was never impressed, he was too spidery, too weak in his conversation, and badly composed in his dress, careless of his appearance, but for all that I thought quite civilized in having so little gift to dissemble or pretend what he did not feel.
And what a bitter gall is in my throat for what I believed was a domesticated man with a clear love for wife and children, who is no more than a savage with not a drop of mercy in his cold heart.
Her aunt's hysteria, formulated oddly in terms of the drawing room, moved her to her own urgent attention. It is an army of wild dogs led by this apostate, this hideous wretch, this devil who will drink your tea and bow before he takes everything from you.
She heard nothing but the cock crowing and, as she turned, suddenly angry, the whisperings of the slaves gathered now at the corner of the house. And then with the team away, the carriage rolling down the gravel path, Mattie turned, lifting the hem of her robe, and mounted the steps only to see that horrible child Pearl, insolent as ever, standing, arms folded, against the pillar as if the plantation was her own. As far back as September, when the news had come that Hood had pulled out and the Union armies had Atlanta, he sat Mattie down and told her what had to be done. Through the bare windows the sun shone, lighting up the floors as if her life were going backward and she was again a young bride in a new-built unfurnished manse and with a somewhat frightening husband twice her age. In fact he didn't, but he was a man whose success gave him reason to suppose he was smarter than most people.
She felt even more dismayed and said not a thing when, with the crops in, John arranged to sell away his dozen prime field hands. When the day came and they were put in shackles into the wagon, she had to run upstairs and cover her ears so as not to hear the families wailing down in the shacks.
All John had said was No buck nigger of mine will wear a Federal uniform, I'll promise you that. She could not imagine how to live except in her own home, with her own things, and the Georgian world arranged to provide her and her family what their station demanded. For all his foresight, John was running around this way and that, red-faced, shouting and giving orders.
The boys, roused out of bed and still only half dressed, came down the stairs with their rifles and ran out through the back. Somehow she dressed and grabbed whatever she could from her armoire and bath and threw everything into two portmanteaus. She heard a gunshot and, looking out the back window, saw one of the mules go down on its knees. Roscoe was leading another from the stable, while her older boy, John Junior, primed his rifle. It seemed only minutes later, with the sun barely on the treetops, that the carriages were waiting out front.
And now the morning breeze brought the smoke around from the stacks where John had set the fodder alight. Roscoe, driving the second carriage, had come past her and, without looking, dropped at her feet something knotted in a handkerchief.
Then the air grew still and warm and, after a moment in which the earth seemed to draw its breath, the morning sun spread in a rush over the plantation.
She knew immediately what it was through the cloth: the same two gold coins he had showed her once when she was little. You git a passel of dese an you c'n fly lak de eagles high, high ober de eart — das what de eagles mean on dese monies.

She went around the big house, past the outbuildings and the smoking fodder and the dead mules, and past the slave quarters where they were busy singing and putting their things together, and down along the trail through the woods to where the Massah had given leave to lay out a graveyard. Lak I hant his marigol eyes an high cheeks an more his likeness dan de runts what his wife ma'm made with the brudders one and two. They looked into the sky as if whatever it was they were told was coming would be from that direction. They stayed close by and made bouquets of weeds or pressed round stones and pebbles in the earth.
The fear they had all seen in the eyes of the fleeing Massah and Mistress told them that deliverance had come. But the sky was cloudless, and as the sun rose everyone settled down and some even nodded off, which Jake Early regretted, feeling that when the Union soldiers came they should find black folk not at their ease but smartly arrayed as a welcoming company of free men and women.
For the longest while there was nothing but the mild stirring of the air, like a whispering in his ear or the rustle of woodland. It wasn't exactly a sound, it was more like a sense of something transformed in his own expectation. And then, almost as if what he held was a divining rod, the staff in his hand pointed to the sky westerly. At this, all the others stood up and came away from the trees: what they saw in the distance was smoke spouting from different points in the landscape, first here, then there.
But in the middle of all this was a change in the sky color itself that gradually clarified as an upward-streaming brown cloud risen from the earth, as if the world was turned upside down. It moved forward, thin as a hatchet blade in front and then widening like the furrow from the plow. When the sound of this cloud reached them, it was like nothing they had ever heard in their lives. It was not fearsomely heaven-made, like thunder or lightning or howling wind, but something felt through their feet, a resonance, as if the earth was humming. Then, carried on a gust of wind, the sound became for moments a rhythmic tromp that relieved them as the human reason for the great cloud of dust. And then, at the edges of this sound of a trompled-upon earth, they heard the voices of living men shouting, finally. The symphonious clamor was everywhere, filling the sky like the cloud of red dust that arrowed past them to the south and left the sky dim, it was the great processional of the Union armies, but of no more substance than an army of ghosts. He was several miles off the column, and so, coming upon the plantation, he resolved to make quick work of it.
They had their old cracked drummers' cases and cotton sacks tied up with their things on the ground beside them. In the yard behind the outbuildings, the fodder stack was a smoking pile, flakes of black ash blowing off in the breeze.
Nor was he less determined when the men marched out of the dairy with sacks of sugar, cornmeal, flour, and rice on their shoulders.
Hanging from hooks were the sides of bacon and cured hams the Massah didn't have time for the taking. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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