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CITY OF GOD - Scarce Pristine Copy of The First Hardcover Edition/First Printing: Signed by E.L. Doctorow

Doctorow, E. L.

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ISBN 10: 0679447830 / ISBN 13: 9780679447832
Published by New York City, NY: Random House, 2000
Condition: Fine Hardcover
From Modern Rare (CHICAGO, IL, U.S.A.)

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About this Item

1st Printing. Signed. 272 pages. Published in 2000. The author's ninth novel. One of E. L. Doctorow's greatest achievements. The First Hardcover Edition. Precedes and should not be confused with all other subsequent editions, particularly the Franklin Mint edition. Published in a small and limited first print run as a hardcover original only. The First Edition is now scarce. Presents E. L. Doctorow's "City of God". "Challenging and provocative, this narrative is a mix of alternating voices that touch on such matters as theology, popular music, astronomy, physics, science, war, carnal love, and the verisimilitude of film to life. Probes the validity of religion in a century that has fostered epic barbarism and bloodshed. Doctorow's language is both lyric and bracing, a mix of elegant, precise wordplay and brash vernacular. In a masterwork of characterization, he depicts a gallery of characters with vivid economy. At once audacious and assured, this profound existential inquiry will surely be ranked as a brilliant mirror of our life and times" (Publishers Weekly). The city in question is New York once more, but this time from the vantage point of the future as opposed to the rich past that Doctorow previously explored in "Ragtime", "World's Fair", The Waterworks", and "Billy Bathgate" (and mined one more time with "Homer & Langley", his eleventh and next-to-last novel). As has been suggested by some critics and admirers, Doctorow has written in "City of God" a more fully realized (and more mature) version of his second, "fantasy"-genre novel, "Big As Life", an early effort that he never allowed to be reissued. "History is the present. That's why every generation writes it anew. But what most people think of as history is its end product, myth. So to be irreverent to myth, to play with it, let in some light and air, to try to combust it back into history, is to risk being seen as someone who distorts truth" (E. L. Doctorow). E. L. Doctorow died on July 21, 2015 at the age of 84, an irreplaceable loss. An absolute "must-have" title for E. L. Doctorow collectors. This copy is very prominently and beautifully signed in blue ink-pen on the title page by E. L. Doctorow. It is signed directly on the page itself, not on a tipped-in page or bookplate. It comes with the Souvenir Material of the event during which the signing was held, one of the very last such public appearances Doctorow made. Please note: Random House indicated its First Editions with the statement and a number line that began with the Number 2. It did not adopt the Number 1 until recently (around 2004/2005), and even then, on a very inconsistent basis. This title is a contemporary classic. This is one of few such signed copies of the First Hardcover Edition/First Printing still available online and is in especially fine condition: Clean, crisp, and bright, a pristine beauty. Late in life, E. L. Doctorow seldom did public signings, and when he did, limited the number of books he was willing to sign. As a result, his Limited Editions, while highly collectible, are often more widely available than copies of the First Hardcover Editions, which are signed directly on the title page rather than on a tipped-in leaf. Beware: Many copies available online have serious flaws. A scarce signed copy thus. Winner of the very first National Book Critics Circle Award in 1976 for "Ragtime". Winner of the National Book Award in 1986 for "World's Fair". Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, Winner of the PEN/Faulkner, and a second National Book Critics Circle Award in 2006 for "The March". One of the greatest American writers of our time. A fine copy. (SEE ALSO OTHER E. L. DOCTOROW TITLES IN OUR CATALOG) ISBN 0679447830. Bookseller Inventory # 19826

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Bibliographic Details

Title: CITY OF GOD - Scarce Pristine Copy of The ...

Publisher: New York City, NY: Random House, 2000

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:Fine

Dust Jacket Condition: Fine

Signed: Signed by Author

Edition: 1st Edition.

About this title


In his workbook, a New York City novelist records the contents of his teeming brain--sketches for stories, accounts of his love affairs, riffs on the meanings of popular songs, ideas for movies, obsessions with cosmic processes. He is a virtual repository of the predominant ideas and historical disasters of the age. But now he has found a story he thinks may be-come his next novel: The large brass cross that hung behind the altar of St. Timothy's, a run-down Episco-pal church in lower Manhattan, has disappeared...and even more mysteriously reappeared on the roof of the Synagogue for Evolutionary Judaism, on the Upper West Side. The church's maverick rector and the young woman rabbi who leads the synagogue are trying to learn who committed this strange double act of desecration and why. Befriending them, the novelist finds that their struggles with their respective traditions are relevant to the case. Into his workbook go his taped interviews, insights, preliminary drafts...and as he joins the clerics in pursuit of the mystery, it broadens to implicate a large cast of vividly drawn characters--including scientists, war veterans, prelates, Holocaust survivors, cabinet members, theologians, New York Times reporters, filmmakers, and crooners--in what proves to be a quest for an authentic spirituality at the end of this tortured century.

Daringly poised at the junction of the sacred and the profane, and filled with the sights and sounds of New York, this dazzlingly inventive masterwork emerges as the American novel readers have been thirsting for: a defining document of our times, a narrative of the twentieth century written for the twenty-first.


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

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Terms of Sale: is exclusively an online bookstore. Our physical address is 124 N. California Ave, Chicago, Illinois 60612, U.S.A. The main contact person is Salvador L. Cortes. He can be reached at 312-376-5000 during regular business hours, Monday to Friday, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00
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Email is usually the best way to reach us: We will respond
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