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.
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|Title of Religion eBook: Sweet Land Stories|
|Release Date: 05-04-2004|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Random House Publishing Group|
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|Parent title||Sweet Land Stories|
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Sweet Land Stories
A House on The Plains
Mama said I was thenceforth to be her nephew, and to call her Aunt Dora. She said our fortune depended on her not having a son as old as eighteen who looked more like twenty. Say Aunt Dora, she said. I said it. She was not satisfied. She made me say it several times. She said I must say it believing she had taken me in since the death of her widowed brother, Horace. I said, I didn’t know you had a brother named Horace. Of course I don’t, she said with an amused glance at me. But it must be a good story if I could fool his son with it.
I was not offended as I watched her primp in the mirror, touching her hair as women do, although you can never see what afterwards is different.
With the life insurance, she had bought us a farm fifty miles west of the city line. Who would be there to care if I was her flesh and blood son or not? But she had her plans and was looking ahead. I had no plans. I had never had plans—just the inkling of something, sometimes, I didn’t know what. I hunched over and went down the stairs with the second trunk wrapped to my back with a rope. Outside, at the foot of the stoop, the children were waiting with their scraped knees and socks around their ankles. They sang their own dirty words to a nursery rhyme. I shooed them away and they scattered off for a minute hooting and hollering and then of course came back again as I went up the stairs for the rest of the things.
Mama was standing at the empty bay window. While there is your court of inquest on the one hand, she said, on the other is your court of neighbors. Out in the country, she said, there will be no one to jump to conclusions. You ca