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'Ragtime' author E.L. Doctorow dies in New York at 84

E.L. Doctorow, author of the bestselling Ragtime and more than a dozen other novels and short story collections, died on July 21 in New York City. The William Kennedy Papers at the M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections & Archives contain nearly twenty years of correspondence between the two award-winning authors. In this April 27, 1978 letter, Doctorow provides critical feedback of Kennedy's third published novel Billy Phelan's Greatest Game, the second in his Albany Cycle of novels. Doctorow refers to Albany as "Kennedy's Yoknapatawpha," the fictional county William Faulkner created and utilized as the setting for the majority of his novels. Doctorow also predicts great literary achievement for Kennedy in "another book, or possibly two," accurately anticipating the success of Kennedy's 1983 novel Ironweed.

The Kennedy Papers contain correspondence sent to Kennedy from fellow authors, journalists, politicians, and members of the film industry, especially his mentor Saul Bellow and Hunter S. Thompson. Also included is correspondence from Philip Roth, Joyce Carol Oates, Frank McCourt, Doris Grumbach, John Updike, Russell Banks, and more.

Listen to audio from a 1990 New York State Writers Institute reading by E.L. Doctorow.