Sweet Land Stories A slim collection of four-fifths perfection. In the improbably beautiful "Jolene: A Life," the masterful 73-year-old author of Ragtime manages to obliterate white-trash cliches with… Sweet Land Stories A slim collection of four-fifths perfection. In the improbably beautiful "Jolene: A Life," the masterful 73-year-old author of Ragtime manages to obliterate white-trash cliches with… 2004-05-04 Fiction
Book Review

Sweet Land Stories (2004)

EW's GRADE
A-

Details Release Date: May 04, 2004; Writer: E.L. Doctorow; Genre: Fiction

A slim collection of four-fifths perfection. In the improbably beautiful ''Jolene: A Life,'' the masterful 73-year-old author of Ragtime manages to obliterate white-trash cliches with the affecting tale of an orphaned, strawberry-haired teen who bounces from tattoo parlors to stripping poles and divorce court. An award-winning highlight, it stands only a bit above three other mini-masterworks concerning a fumbled kidnapping, a religious cult, and a frontier mother and son. Gracefully mordant and frequently heart-churning, these stories are worth the steep price of a book that's a mere 147 pages. The only miss is the final ''Child, Dead, in the Rose Garden,'' a pseudo-topical political conspiracy yarn as clunky as its title.

Originally posted May 07, 2004 Published in issue #764 May 07, 2004 Order article reprints
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