Sunday, March 17, 2013


Remember when Teddy Roosevelt was President? What about that "fatty" William Howard Taft?  Of course, he was from Cincinnati.  One man in a long line of distinguished fat Cincinnatians.  Ragtime, by E.L. Doctorow set in 1906, seamlessly blends fictional characters and historical figures.  Houdini, J.P.Morgan and Evelyn Nesbit are real people and apparently also bat-shit crazy.  I only looked up Evelyn Nesbit's story because it is a significant plot point.  Her real story is even crazier, yes, he toned it down for the book.  Anyway, if you like your historical fiction a little lascivious, slightly violent, with a smattering of revolutionary politics, you'll enjoy this.

They made a Ragtime movie which was on HBO when I was a kid.  I think it was inappropriate for children because I remember full frontal nudity. I haven't seen it lately but that seems like something you would remember, especially when you have older brothers.  Guess who showed her "business?" Why, it was a young Elizabeth McGovern.  Yes, the Countess of Grantham.  I would love to incorporate Maggie Smith and Downton Abbey into that scene. Maggie would say dryly, "A bit early to bring out the crumpets for tea, isn't it?" (raised eyebrow)  Or, "Its nice to see that the estate has taken the effort to match the carpet with the drapes, its so rare to find that these days."

There is a reason this is a "classic." You should be warned that everyone acknowledges that the ending is kind of crappy compared to the first three quarters of the book, which are pretty awesome.

I asked an expert on what would be a popular drink during this time period and he said the Bronx Cocktail. Take 1/3 Plymouth Gin, 1/3 French Vermouth, 1/3 Italian Vermouth, flavored with two dashes of orange bitters, a barspoon full of orange juice and a squeeze of orange peel.  Shake well with cracked ice, strain and serve.

Oh, and guess where E.L. Doctorow is from.  The Bronx.  Mind. Blown.

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