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City of God
by E. L. Doctorow | Other
Registered by wingk00kaburrawing of San Jose, California USA on Wednesday, April 09, 2008
Average 6 star rating by BookCrossing Members 

status (set by k00kaburra): to be read


7 journalers for this copy...

Journal Entry 1 by wingk00kaburrawing from San Jose, California USA on Wednesday, April 09, 2008

This book has not been rated.

Rec'd via Bookmooch.com.

--

Amazon.com
You want ambition? E.L. Doctorow's City of God starts off not merely with a bang but with the big bang itself, that "great expansive flowering, a silent flash into being in a second or two of the entire outrushing universe." It doesn't, to be sure, remain on this cosmic plane throughout. There's a mystery here, along with a romance, a chilling Holocaust narrative, and a deep-focus portrait of fin-de-siècle Manhattan--not to mention cameo appearances by that Holy Trinity of contemporary mythmaking: Albert Einstein, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and Frank Sinatra. But while the author of Ragtime and Billy Bathgate is no slacker when it comes to entertainment, he has more in mind this time around. Even the title, with its Augustinian overtones, tips us off to the author's preoccupation with belief, human consciousness, and "our wrecked romance with God."

Let's return, however, to that mystery. In the early pages of the novel, an enormous brass cross is pilfered from a church on the Lower East Side. Father Thomas Pemberton of St. Timothy's promptly sets off in search of it, dubbing himself the Divinity Detective. Yet he suspects from the start that this is no ordinary theft, with no ordinary solution:

So now these people, whoever they are, have lifted our cross. It bothered me at first. But now I'm beginning to see it differently. That whoever stole the cross had to do it. And wouldn't that be blessed? Christ going where He is needed?

Where He seems to be needed is the opposite side of the ecumenical aisle. The cross turns up on the roof of the Synagogue for Evolutionary Judaism, a tiny Manhattan institution to which Pemberton has clearly been led by fate. His encounter with the synagogue's rabbinical duo--a husband-and-wife team struggling to reclaim a pre-scriptural state of "unmediated awe"--transforms his life. It also destroys what's left of his conventional Christian belief. Augustine's spin on original sin, for example, now strikes him as "a nifty little act of deconstruction--passing it on to the children, like HIV." And as his relationship with Judaism deepens, he discards the clerical collar altogether and embarks upon a penitential exploration of the Holocaust--which in turn allows Doctorow to loop his narrative back and forth between several generations of (mostly) Jew and Gentile.

Astonishingly enough, the foregoing only scratches the surface of City of God. This marvelous hybrid also includes a metafictional framework (i.e., an author-as-character with a rather Doctorovian resume), an ongoing rumination on city life, and a dozen other major strands and minor players. There are, not surprisingly, a number of misfires. For example, Doctorow has long been interested in the power of American popular song--in the way that, say, Gershwin's work has come to function as a kind of secular hymnal. Yet the author's postmodernist variations on the standards, which appear at regular intervals throughout the novel under the ominous rubric of "The Midrash Jazz Quartet Plays the Standards," are jaw-droppingly awful. One might also argue that the book is too centrifugal, too devoted to the storytelling principle of the big bang. Still, there is an undeniable power to the way Doctorow makes his fictional worlds collide, setting off all manner of historical and philosophical conflagrations. At one point he imagines "the totality of intimate human narrations / composing a hymn to enlightenment / if that were possible." A tall order, yes. But despite its occasional longueurs, City of God suggests that it's possible indeed. --James Marcus
 


Journal Entry 2 by wingk00kaburrawing from San Jose, California USA on Wednesday, April 09, 2008

This book has not been rated.


This is book no. 60 on the "1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die" list.
 


Journal Entry 3 by wingk00kaburrawing from San Jose, California USA on Thursday, February 19, 2009

This book has not been rated.

I've had this book for a while, but I know I won't get a chance to read it any time soon. So I thought, why not turn it into a Book Ring so that it isn't just sitting there for months and months? I have not yet read this book, so I do expect it back when the ring is completed. The participants so far are:

- ciloma, ID (prefer to send local)
- ChiBoiler, IL
- kingfan30, UK
- lucy-lemon, UK
- piemunga, Australia (prefer to send local)
- valerief, NY
- k00kaburra <- book has come home to me and the bookring is officially over!

Please try to read this book as fast as you can. If possible I would like it to stay at the same place for no longer than one month.

Thank you, and enjoy!
 


Journal Entry 4 by wingk00kaburrawing at to next participant, a ring/ray -- Controlled Releases on Sunday, March 08, 2009

This book has not been rated.

Released 5 yrs ago (3/8/2009 UTC) at to next participant, a ring/ray -- Controlled Releases

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sent to ciloma to begin the book ring! 


Journal Entry 5 by ciloma from Spirit Lake, Idaho USA on Friday, March 13, 2009

This book has not been rated.

Came in the mail today. THANX, K00kaburra! 


Journal Entry 6 by ciloma from Spirit Lake, Idaho USA on Tuesday, March 24, 2009

7 out of 10

Yikes - this was one tough book to read. I found the jumping around really hard to follow and keeping track of the players was hard for me, too. I should have read it with a pen and paper. There was a *lot* going on and some of the philosophical and religious stuff was hard for me to fully realize/understand/digest. I don't know that I would recco this book to many because it was such a hard read. 


Journal Entry 7 by ciloma at Spirit Lake, Idaho USA on Thursday, March 26, 2009

This book has not been rated.

Released 5 yrs ago (3/26/2009 UTC) at Spirit Lake, Idaho USA

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On it's way to literarylover. enjoy! 


Journal Entry 8 by ChiBoiler from Chicago, Illinois USA on Sunday, April 05, 2009

This book has not been rated.

This book arrived while I was on vacation. I am currently reading a book, but as soon as I finish it, I will get started!! 


Journal Entry 9 by ChiBoiler from Chicago, Illinois USA on Wednesday, April 15, 2009

6 out of 10

I finished this book last night. It wasn't as good as I had hoped. The storyline was hard to follow with the writing style. Took me a while to get used to it and to determine who was telling the story in each section. I thought there was a lot of useless information tucked between the main plot lines that made it drag a bit. I liked Sarah's fathers story best.

I have the address of the next reader, but today is the US tax deadline and I refuse to go to the post office to battle all of the crazies trying to beat the deadline!! (Last year I went a few days before and had to wait in line for 45 minutes!) I will mail this out before the end of the week.

k00kaburra, thanks for including me in this ring! 


Journal Entry 10 by ChiBoiler at Chicago, Illinois USA on Thursday, April 23, 2009

This book has not been rated.

Released 5 yrs ago (4/23/2009 UTC) at Chicago, Illinois USA

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Book is on its way to the next reader. Sorry for the delay in mailing it out! 


Journal Entry 11 by kingfan30 on Wednesday, April 29, 2009

5 out of 10

Book has arrived thanks, sounds like your post office is a nightmare!! Will finish To The Lighthouse and then get on to it.

6th May 09 - Not sure I understood this book, it does jump around a lot and I was not always sure who I was reading about or when. I found the making of the earth got a bit scientific as well! I did however enjoy the story of the jewish runner during the war and was disappointed this was cut short and you never really found out what happened after the train journey.

Thanks for including me in the bookring. 


Journal Entry 12 by kingfan30 at Bangor, Wales United Kingdom on Thursday, May 07, 2009

This book has not been rated.

Released 5 yrs ago (5/7/2009 UTC) at Bangor, Wales United Kingdom

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Sent on to Lucy-lemon 


Journal Entry 13 by lucy-lemon from Llandudno, Wales United Kingdom on Tuesday, May 12, 2009

This book has not been rated.

Arrived the other day, it looks like an interesting read! 


Journal Entry 14 by lucy-lemon from Llandudno, Wales United Kingdom on Saturday, May 16, 2009

This book has not been rated.

I really don't have a clue what to say about this book! I liked some parts of it a lot (Sarah's father's story) but I found the rest of the book pretty hard to get through. But I'm glad to have read it!

Pmed piemunga for their address and will send it off to them as soon as possible. 


Journal Entry 15 by piemunga from Marrickville, New South Wales Australia on Tuesday, June 02, 2009

This book has not been rated.

sorry! i received this last friday and didn't get around to journaling it. i've just started and enjoying it so far :) 


Journal Entry 16 by piemunga at Sydney, New South Wales, Australia -- Controlled Releases on Thursday, June 25, 2009

This book has not been rated.

Released 5 yrs ago (6/24/2009 UTC) at Sydney, New South Wales, Australia -- Controlled Releases

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post off to the wonderful state of New York! 


Journal Entry 17 by valerief from Forest Hills, New York USA on Sunday, September 13, 2009

This book has not been rated.

Received this a little while ago and forgot to journal it, thanks! 


Journal Entry 18 by valerief at sent to the next bookcrosser, Bookring -- Controlled Releases on Saturday, November 14, 2009

7 out of 10

Released 5 yrs ago (11/14/2009 UTC) at sent to the next bookcrosser, Bookring -- Controlled Releases

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Agree with the others, this is not the easiest and lightest read. I often felt confused as to who is speaking. The Midrash quartet added nothing to the story in my opinion. However, I still enjoyed it, especially the underlying mystery weaved with philosophical and religious discourse. It seems that the main theme is making sense of it all. Not a beach read but still challenging and interesting.

Sending it back home! 


Journal Entry 19 by wingk00kaburrawing from San Jose, California USA on Tuesday, December 01, 2009

This book has not been rated.

Thank you to everyone for participating! Back into Mt. TBR City of God will go, but I look forward to reading it all the more because of your thoughts :D 




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