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Reporting the Universe

A non fiction book by


"The writer", according to Emerson, "believes all that can be thought can be written... In his eyes a man is the faculty of reporting, and the universe is the possibility of being reported". And what writer worth his name, E.L. Doctorow asks, will not seriously however furtively, take on the universe? Human consciousness, personal history, American literature, religion and politics - these are the far-flung coordinates of the universe that Doctorow reports here, a universe that uniquely and brilliantly reflects our contemporary science. Rich with philosophical asides, historical speculations, personal observations and literary judgements, "Reporting the Universe" ranges from the circumstances of Doctorow's own boyhood and early work to the state of modern society. An account of the "Childhood of a Writer", along with pieces on Kenyon College and the author's first novel, comprise a pocket-sized memoir. In reflections on Emerson, on "texts that are sacred, texts that are not", and on literature and religion Doctorow concerns himself with the status and fate of literature. And in "Why We Are Infidels" and "The Politics of God" he engages some of the most pressing anxieties and ideologies of our day. This series of reflections comes together as an artfully sustained meditation on American consciousness and experience, discrete episodes converging, as in the author's fiction, to form a luminous whole - a "report" by turns touching and funny, ironic and exalted, and, in its unique way, universally to the point.

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