Author EL Doctorow Dead at 84

Wrote 'Ragtime,' 'Billy Bathgate'
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 21, 2015 8:24 PM CDT
In this 2004 file photo, author E.L. Doctorow smiles during an interview in his office at New York University.   (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)
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(Newser) – Acclaimed author EL Doctorow is dead at age 84 from complications of lung cancer. He might be best known for Ragtime, a novel set at the turn of the 20th century that was published in 1975 and later turned into a film with James Cagney as well as a musical, notes AP. Its obituary says Doctorow "wryly reimagined the American experience in such novels ... and applied its lessons to the past and future in fiction and nonfiction." Other popular works include Billy Bathgate, World's Fair, and the March.

The New York Times calls Doctorow a "leading figure in contemporary American letters" and praised his ability to place fictional characters in actual historical contexts using an inventive "cocktail of fiction and fact." Doctorow, it says, "was one of contemporary fiction’s most restless experimenters." The Los Angeles Times picks out a quote from its own review of the novel Andrew's Brain that calls Doctorow "a romantic, a true believer—in the myth of America as a shining city, despite its various and ongoing failures to live up to its better self."

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