“Beautifully written, meticulously plotted, scrupulously imagined... The stories are told in a spirit of sweet affirmation, as if they were meant as signs pointing readers to shocking or daring destinations.”
—The New York Times Book Review

“Compelling... disturbing... marvelously wry... In the tradition of the best American fiction, Sweet Land Stories prods... the American dream in order to examine its underbelly... [These tales] showcase Doctorow’s deftness as a storyteller.”
—Los Angeles Times Book Review

“Improbably beautiful... gracefully mordant and frequently heart–churning... In these marvelous short stories, Doctorow deals with fear, isolation, and defeat with compassion, wit, and outrage.”
—Entertainment Weekly

“The five short masterpieces in Sweet Land Stories are pitch–perfect, the work of a virtuosic storyteller with enormous range... Enlivened by taut prose and illuminated by an incisive understanding of human behavior, Sweet Land is deeply affecting.”
—People (Critic’s Choice)

“Amazing... much in the manner of Melville’s 1853 masterpiece Bartleby the Scrivener.”
—The Boston Sunday Globe

“Doctorowxs most overtly American work since Billy Bathgate... a glimpse of America on the fringes... What’s astonishing [about his fiction] is not just Doctorow’s insistence on a larger mythos but his ability to write continually from outside his experience. It’s an aesthetic that would be compelling in any era, yet seems especially so at the present.”
—The Nation


From Sweet Land Stories

She married Mickey Holler when she was fifteen. Married him to get out of her latest foster home where her so–called dad used to fool with her, get her to hold him, things like that. Even before her menses started. And her foster mom liked to slap her up the head for no reason. Or for every reason. So she married Mickey. And he loved her xthat was a plus. She had never had that experience before. It made her look at herself in the mirror and do things with her hair. He was twenty, Mickey. Real name Mervin. He was a sweet boy if without very much upstairs, as she knew even from their first date. He had a heel that didn’t touch the ground and weak eyes but he was not the kind to lay a hand on a woman. And she could tell him what she wanted, like a movie, or a grilled–cheese sandwich and a chocolate shake, and it became his purpose in life. He loved her, he really did, even if he didn’t know much about it. But anyway she was out of the house now, and wearing a wedding ring to South Sumter High. Some of the boys said smutty things but the girls looked upon her with a new respect.

Excerpted from Sweet Land Stories by E. L. Doctorow Copyright © 2012 by E.L. Doctorow. Excerpted by permission of Random House, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.