Friday, May 18, 2012

Book Beginnings: Doctorow's World's Fair

"I was born on Clinton Street in the Lower East Side. I was the next to youngest of six children, two boys, four girls."

Thus begins World's Fair by E.L. Doctorow. I find it unusual that this beginning doesn't capture what I am finding to be one of the best aspects of the book, now that I am almost half-way through it.

It's narrated by different members of a family, but the speaker here (the mother, Rose) isn't the main narrator. Most of the book gives a mature perspective on what it was like to grow up as Rose's son, an 8-year-old boy in the Bronx of the 1930's.

Doctorow nails this perspective, too, with a poet's eye and diction. That's another way the opening lines are unusual: they seem flat compared to what comes later.

But I guess every story has to start somewhere.

Want more of this? Check out Book Beginnings every Friday at Rose City Reader, where bookish folks share and riff on the first sentence (or so) of what they're reading.


  1. Yes, I've noticed that some of the best books begin this way...quietly, with very little fanfare.

    Thanks for sharing...and here's MY FRIDAY MEMES POST

  2. It is a very quiet beginning but some of the best books I have ever read started out softly.

  3. A book does not have to start with a loud voice to be powerful. Thanks for sharing. Here is my post:


  4. Reading Doctorow is always such a pleasure. Good that you're enjoying this book.


  5. I don't think I have ever read anything by Doctorow. I don't know that this beginning would entice me. Happy reading!

  6. Thanks for participating! Glad to have you on board!

    Sorry I am slow to come by and visit your post. I haven't stopped by for a while -- what happened to the big blog picture? I missed a major redesign.


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