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Welcome to Hard Times Paperback – July 1, 1996
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Top Customer Reviews
Those who survive the Bad Man's wrath choose to leave, to seek better fortune elsewhere. Only the town's unofficial mayor Blue, a local Indian healer, a half burnt prostitute and a murdered carpenter's son stay behind. Blue is the narrator, and it is not some angry venomous determination to fight back that makes him stay to found a new town, but a defeatest acceptance of their fortune. If life has to go on, then this burned down town is as good a place as any.
Doctrow's debut novel is a grim and dirty slice of bleak frontier life. A novel that sets out to destroy the myths of heroism in the old west. In Welcome To Hard Times heroism results in death and cowardice merely delays it. The only kind of accomplishment to be proud of is survival. As Blue narrates how the new town of Hard Times comes into being, how the Russian's bordello has brought prosperity and how the money is ever flowing, his tone is unmistakably regretful. The tragic outcome is never in any doubt, we are left to ponder who will be left behind next time a force of nature strikes.
Like Robert Altman's film McCabe & Mrs.Miller, this is a novel with no illusions about the period. Relishing the grim pictorals of Buzzards feeding on the dead, fire burning over ice, it marches to its inevitable end. The downfall is never in question, only one thing can make these character's life worse. Hope.
Blue is a leader of sorts, also kind of a coward, but human in all respects. He rises and falls with the town he exists in. He ekes out a position of modest respect, while also inciting a level of revilement in those with whom he desires closeness. He is in a way a tragic character, but fully human. The Bad Man of Bodie is the dark force of evil in the story, hovering around ready to destroy the meager gains that Blue and his fellow settlers find. One senses Blue's disappointment and self-loathing in his recounting of the rise and fall of the inconsequential town and a rueful sense of what could have been, personally and socially.
This was a very entertaining read; thoughtful, subtle and as satisfying as a cold beer on a hot day.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A very interesting tale of a small town in the West. The bad and the good. The ups and the downs. The town starts to prosper as the nearby mine expands. Businesses expand. Read morePublished 2 months ago by CLC
He's highly regarded in literary circles, but this specific novel, did not catch my interest. Seemed gloomy and slow. I couldn't finish it. Just not my taste. Read morePublished 4 months ago by M. Lasky
Quintessential Doctorow crafting and writing - should be on must-read lists for anyone who is nourished by the WELL-spoken word!Published 4 months ago by Diana T
I'd not read anything by E. L. Doctorow, so when he passed recently, I decided to read his first novel, "Welcome to Hard Times. Read morePublished 5 months ago by S