E.L. Doctorow, best known for the novels Ragtime, The March, World’s Fair, and Billy Bathgate, has died at age 84 from complications of lung cancer.
In an exhaustive obituary The New York Times says, “he consistently upended expectations with a cocktail of fiction and fact, remixed in book after book; with clever and substantive manipulations of popular genres like the Western and the detective story; and with his myriad storytelling strategies… Mr. Doctorow was one of contemporary fiction’s most restless experimenters.”
The NYT also includes a link to a video of Doctorow discussing his work process.
Other notable obituaries include those by the LA Times, NPR, and New York magazine.
The LA Times reports President Obama posted his reaction on Twitter:
NPR’s obituary points out that Doctorow was once a book editor working with a diverse range of writers, including Ayn Rand, Ian Fleming, Norman Mailer, and James Baldwin. The site also includes a video of Doctorow accepting the 2013 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters given by the National Book Foundation for lifetime achievement.
New York magazine includes a charming film clip of Doctorow discussing how difficult writing can be.
Readers Advisory: for those who haven’t read Doctorow’s books, a good place to begin is Ragtime, an exploration of America at the start of the 20th century, including historical characters such as Sigmund Freud, Harry Houdini, Henry Ford, and Booker Washington.