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Sweet land stories by E. L. Doctorow
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Sweet land stories (original 2004; edition 2004)

by E. L. Doctorow (Author)

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243None47,313 (3.93)14
Member:HarryMacDonald
Title:Sweet land stories
Authors:E. L. Doctorow (Author)
Info:New York : Random House, 2004.
Collections:Your library
Rating:**
Tags:fiction -- English language (general)

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Sweet Land Stories by E. L. Doctorow (2004)

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Showing 4 of 4
I picked up this volume of short stories, hoping to read more about American life in smaller towns or even the countryside, but that did not entirely work out. True, these are stories about people in places all over the US, and not always in the big cities. But the title, Sweet land stories, should not be taken literally. It's use is ironic, hinting at some of the grotesk characters appearing in these stories. The stories did not interest me much, and some, like "Baby Wilson" even quite irritated me. Perhaps the most interesting was "Walter John Harmon" about a religious community, and how the spiritual leader elopes with the wife of one of the congregation. While reading, I wondered whether the baby, in the last story "Child, dead, in the rose garden" could be the "Baby Wilson" of that other story, but I wasn't very interested to reread and figure out. ( )
  edwinbcn | Jan 2, 2012 |
Collection of short stories; A House on the Plains was the first story and was one of those short stories that you want to be a whole book so that it will keep going. The story of Mama and Earle travelling from Chicago to La Ville after the death of Mama's husband to "start anew" in different city is not the story you expect. And even once you figure out what is going on the ending still throws you for a loop which is why I wanted the story to continue.
Having finished the second story: Baby Wilson I was going to say I thought it started off fairly slow, but perhaps that was just b/c I had wanted the previous story to continue. My favorite part of this story was the ending, and not b/c I wanted it to, rather because unlike many short stories this one continues on after the "main" story to let you know what happened afterward to the main characters.
Though Jolene: a Life was an engaging story, I found it far fetched and therefore did not find it to be one of the most memorable stories in the collections as some readers have. She meets a new man around every corner who sexually, physically and/or emotionally abuses her. No one is as unlucky as Jolene. I just didn't buy it.
Walter John Harmon was the surprise story for me. I did not think I would find a story about a cult so intriguing...to quote: "It is in the nature of a miracle that Walter John Harmon has in his effortless way drawn so many of us to his prophecy. And that wee have given everything we possess--not to him, to the Demand that comes through him. We are not idiots. We are not cult victims." But again I was thrown for a loop at the ending and was glad I stuck this story out. Mr. Doctorow's writing is so detailed, especially in a story like this, I feel as though I am part of it and that is why I enjoyed this book.
Lastly, Child, Dead, In the Rose Garden was the perfect way to end this collection of short stories. It was exactly as the tite states, a story of a child found dead in the Rose Garden of the White House. The story focus' primarily on the lead FBI investigator Molloy and his actions and reactions when the incident is swept under the rug b/c it involves a personal friend of the president.
I'm really looking forward to selecting one of the author books after finding his short stories so compelling. ( )
  campingmomma | May 16, 2010 |
Unbelievably bleak but riveting Doctorow here relates short stories of heart ache and pain. The title is ironic in that the stories are anything but sweet.
  gmicksmith | Aug 10, 2008 |
I've long been a fan of Doctorow's. I remember reading Ragtime almost 25 years ago when the movie came out (wow, was I really that young when I read it?!?). So, it was a treat to read this new collection of his short stories. It's a slim volume, only five stories. But of the five, two have already won awards for best short fiction and two have been included in best of anthologies (according to the blurb on the cover). This doesn't surprise me as they're uniformly well written with well drawn characters--one of the things I think is hardest to accomplish in the short story format--realistic dialogue, and heavy themes. They're not light, easy reads. Bad, bad things happen, there are evil people in the stories, and there are people who simply suffer the evil done to them and persevere.

Of the stories, I think "Jolene: A Life" and "Child, Dead, in the Rose Garden" will stay with me the longest. The first because it's the story of a young woman who suffers much and still retains a glimmer of hope in her life, and the second because it says so much about the abuse of power in the highest political circles.

If you're already a fan of either Doctorow or the short story format, I strongly recommend this book. If you've never read Doctorow, this would be a good place to start. My favorite of his books is World's Fair, and this one hasn't usurped its place in my affections, but it is a great example of his work. ( )
  jennyo | Mar 28, 2006 |
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E. L. Doctorowprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Commandeur, SjaakTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0812971779, Paperback)

One of America’s premier writers, the bestselling author of Ragtime, Billy Bathgate, The Book of Daniel, and World’s Fair turns his astonishing narrative powers to the short story in five dazzling explorations of who we are as a people and how we live.

Ranging over the American continent from Alaska to Washington, D.C., these superb short works are crafted with all the weight and resonance of the novels for which E. L. Doctorow is famous. You will find yourself set down in a mysterious redbrick townhouse in rural Illinois (“A House on the Plains”), working things out with a baby-kidnapping couple in California (“Baby Wilson”), living on a religious-cult commune in Kansas (“Walter John Harmon”), and sharing the heartrending cross-country journey of a young woman navigating her way through three bad marriages to a kind of bruised but resolute independence (“Jolene: A Life”). And in the stunning “Child, Dead, in the Rose Garden,” you will witness a special agent of the FBI finding himself at a personal crossroads while investigating a grave breach of White House security.

Two of these stories have already won awards as the best fiction of the year published in American periodicals, and two have been chosen for annual best-story anthologies.
Composed in a variety of moods and voices, these remarkable portrayals of the American spiritual landscape show a modern master at the height of his powers.


From the Hardcover edition.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:46:41 -0400)

"Ranging over the American continent from Alaska to Washington, D.C., these short works are crafted with all the weight and resonance of the novels for which E. L. Doctorow is famous. You will find yourself set down in a mysterious redbrick townhouse in rural Illinois ("A House on the Plains"), working things out with a baby-kidnapping couple in California ("Baby Wilson"), living on a religious-cult commune in Kansas ("Walter John Harmon"), and sharing the heartrending cross-country journey of a young woman navigating her way through three bad marriages to a kind of bruised but resolute independence ("Jolene: A Life"). And in "Child, Dead, in the Rose Garden", you will witness the crisis of a special agent of the FBI finding himself at a personal crossroads while investigating a grave breach of White House security."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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