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Ragtime by E.L. Doctorow
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Sorry. One of those books where I have completely no recollection of what I read. There’s Harry Houdini, whose story was interwoven into the narrative, giving some texture and background to his life what you’d otherwise not glean from what popular culture have you know (which of course, could be fiction). The other players in the book, well, it’s very steeped in Americana, expects you to know the majority of the famous characters showcased.

Wait wait, it’s coming back to me now. Towards the last third of the story there’s this black chap (who of course has appeared in the novel earlier, but comes into prominence here for this sequence of events), who wanted to get back at a white fireman for not taking action against his team of firemen for a pretty blatant petty crime committed against him (black chap). His car was smashed and defecated on, and it was clear to everyone at the scene who did what. However due to the racial element the fireman not only did not take any action but insisted that the matter not be brought up any further or risk arrest. This injustice set off a chain reaction where the black chap went underground, and started killing firemen and blowing up firestations across several locations, and demanding that his car be restored.

His activism attracted like-minded band of brothers and culminated in a climactic scene where he holds a museum housing priceless artifacts hostage while demanding for this car, and ends with him bargaining for the life of the said firemen with those of his men, before getting shot as he surrendered.

Ok lar, it wasn’t a horrible book, but it simply wasn’t very memorable. This book has won many awards, so it simply underlines how much I really know (which is, of course, not much).

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