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.