A Few Bars of Ragtime.

A few passages from the beginning of EL Doctorow‘s 1975 novel Ragtime, transcribed for landscape and setting purposes, with all materials pertaining to matters outside the realm of landscape/setting segregated by double brackets. I feel like a troglodyte for even saying this, but if you haven’t done so yet, you must read and own this book; and then, you must go out and read Heinrich von Kleist‘s 1811 novella Michael Kohlhaas, which you should own as well. Trust me.


68 words:

In 1902 Father built a house at the crest of the Broadview Avenue hill in New Rochelle, New York. It was a three-story brown shingle with dormers, bay windows, and a screened porch. Striped awnings shaded the windows. The family took possession of this stout manse on a sunny day in June and it seemed for some years thereafter that all their days would be warm and fair.

55 words:

Sea birds started and flew up. This was the time in our history when Winslow Homer was doing his painting. A certain light was still available along the Eastern seaboard. Homer painted the light. It gave the sea a heavy dull menace and shone coldly on the rocks and shoals of the New England Coast.

108 words:

The afternoon was a blue haze. Tidewater seeped into [[his]] footprints. [[He bent down and found]] a perfect shell specimen, a variety not common to western Long Island Sound. It was a volute pink and amber shell the shape of a thimble, and what [[he]] did in the hazy sun with the salt drying [[on his ankles was to throw his head back and drink]] the minute amount of sea water in the shell. Gulls wheeled overhead, crying like oboes, and behind [[him]] at the land end of the marsh, out of sight behind the tall grass, the distant bell of the North Avenue streetcar tolled its warning.

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