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World's Fair: A Novel Paperback – July 10, 2007
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From School Library Journal
YA The 1930s was a turbulent time for America: the Great Depression, left-wing politics and the growing concern over the rise of Hitler in Europe. As seen through the eyes of nine-year-old Edgar Altshuler, these events provide a backdrop for the more intimate story of his own family and how they coped while living in the Bronx. They serve a symbolic purpose as well as a historical one. On his first visit to the fair, Edgar is enthralled by industry's vision of the futuresafe, secure and prosperous cities, speedy and cheap transportation and modern invention to make life easier. On his second visit, he sees that the exhibits are constructed of gypsum whose paint is peeling and that the displays are really toys. Reality has altered Edgar's perceptionshe is growing up. Edgar's chapters are randomly interspersed with his mother Rose's recollections and a few by his older brother Donald to give a seemingly simplistic view of life that is actually a rich narrative of history, political and personal values and points for discussion. A remarkable book for perceptive readers. Diana Hirsch, PGCMLS, Md.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From the Inside Flap
"Something close to magic." The Los Angeles Times
The astonishing novel of a young boy's life in the New York City of the 1930s, a stunning recreation of the sights, sounds, aromas and emotions of a time when the streets were safe, families stuck together through thick and thin, and all the promises of a generation culminate in a single great World's Fair . . .
From the Paperback edition. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
The book is told from the perspective of Edgar Altschuler, a young man looking back on details of his youth. Of the text's 31 chapters all are from his point of view with the exception of four from his mother's (Rose), two from his brother (Donald), and one from his aunt (Frances). I only mention this because when Doctorow shifts the perspective, albeit briefly, it increases the scope of the text and makes the story that much richer. When these seven chapters are interspersed in the book they are written as if the character whose point of view we are getting is telling their perspective to the adult Edgar, who is our guide in this tale. The interspersion creates a nice contrast in the text, and is a good technique as employed here.
"World's Fair" is a beautifully written book, but it is also fair to say that at times it is overwritten. However, when the writing is as good as this is you mostly don't care about that. Doctorow does an amazing job of capturing how a child sees and interprets things. You really live inside the mind of a young boy. You will recognize Edgar's way of thinking from your own childhood. It is an astounding feat, and a real testament to the greatness of this book.
A highlight of the novel is chapters 28 & 29, which feature Edgar going to the 1939 World's Fair, and it is magical. The writing soars at this point and the reader will find they are as enthralled as this nine year old boy is at the wonders that he beholds. It is edge of your seat reading, and you will not put the book down in the middle of these two chapters, I assure you!
One of the critical blurbs on the cover of the novel perfectly captures this text, so I will end my review with it. "Doctorow has managed to regain the awed perspective of a child in this novel of rare warmth and intimacy..." All I can say to that is amen!
Edger Altshuler is a young jewish boy growing up in the Bronx, NY during the time of the depression. World's Fair is his story.
E. L. Doctorow, you did a great job of bringing to life the 1939 World's Fair and all it's glory! I'm going to give you four stars!
Fun Fact: "E. L. Doctorow was born in the Bronx, New York City, the son of Rose (Levine) and David Richard Doctorow, second-generation Americans of Russian Jewish descent who named him after Edgar Allan Poe."
Well written, really get to know the chacters and how and why they relate to each other. Would recommend this book.
This is my third book written by Doctrow, RagTime and the March. Favorite is Rag Time.
A grown man reviews his childhood with mostly pleasant thoughts and a scattering of unhappier memories. The story is easy reading and nice choice if you want a break from heavier reading. There is a nice mix of families - struggling couple, single mom, and upper class.