Books: The Nightmare and the Dream

LOON LAKE by E.L. Doctorow; Random House; 258 pages; $11.95

Author E.L. Doctorow's Ragtime (1975) Author E.L. Doctorow's Ragtime (1975) was one of the cultural happenings of the past decade. The novel received largely rhapsodic reviews; its fictional use of such historical figures as Henry Ford and J.P. Morgan prompted reams of analysis. Commercial success accompanied the critical welcome. Paperback rights went for $1.9 million, a record at the time, a film deal was struck, and Ragtime became a bestseller. As the cash register continued to jingle, though, a number of literati began backing and filling from their earlier praise. If...

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