The small number of characters may indicate that Doctorow has thought of World's Fair as a novel quite different in kind from Ragtime. If the earlier novel resembles an epic with a very large cast and plenty of action, then World's Fair is closer to a lyric poem with one principal voice and few events beyond the subtle changes of mood and tone. Not many contemporary novels are so dependent upon the modulation of a single voice. The success of World's Fair is largely due to the introspective drama of the child narrator. Edgar Altschuler is a sensitive and...
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