People Staff
October 20, 1980 12:00 PM

by E.L. Doctorow

The time is the Great Depression. The hero is a hobo, drifter and carnival employee. He discovers Loon Lake in the Adirondacks, where a rich man has a secret lodge. From there he flees with a gangster’s beautiful girlfriend to the Midwest, where auto unions are struggling to organize. Meanwhile, the rich man’s wife, a pilot, disappears on a flight over the Pacific. Doctorow, author of Ragtime, never writes the same kind of book twice. This time his scenes often read as if they are dream sequences or fragments. Who is the hero? Why does he lapse out of the first person at times? The reader who lets himself be carried along by this original work receives a reward. The pieces all come together in a uniquely satisfying way. Life must have seemed like this for many Americans in the ’30s. (Random House, $11.95)

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