“Marvelous... you get lost in World’s Fair as if it were an exotic adventure. You devour it with the avidity usually provoked by a suspense thriller.”
—The New York Times
“Something close to magic.”
—Los Angeles Times
“World’s Fair is better than a time capsule; it’s an actual slice of a long–ago world, and we emerge from it as dazed as those visitors standing on the corner of the future.”
“Doctorow has managed to regain the awed perspective of a child in this novel of rare warmth and intimacy... Stony indeed is the heart that cannot be moved by this book.”
From World's Fair
There was something stunted about the Shadow’s adventures. They were no contest. Typically, in a Shadow story, it would take Lamont Cranston a while to realize he was faced with a severe enough crisis to change into the Shadow. Sometimes it would happen that his girlfriend Margo was threatened. The criminals were always stupid and talked either with foreign accents or in rough gravelly voices with the diction of the Dead End Kids. They would have guns and shoot wildly, but to no avail. The shadow would laugh his sniggling laugh and tell them they had missed Actually, I knew that with a tommy gun a smart crook could hold his finger down on the trigger and spin around in a 360–degree circle spraying bullets up and down and so have a fair chance of hitting the Shadow whether he was invisible or not, and no matter how far he threw his voice. His invisible blood would run. But they never thought of that.
...I thought of Margo, Lamont Cranston’s friend as looking like my mother’s friend Mae but without her glasses, and without Mae’s little jokes. Margo was an attractive woman, but lacking in humor. Cranston himself I thought a little slow–moving to take as long as he did to go into action: he was fairly sedentary, as compared, say, with the Green Hornet, who could probably lick him in a fight if they went at it visibly. I didníƒÙt think of the Shadow as being able to jump rooftops or climb ropes or run very fast. On the other hand, why should he have to? Also, I wondered about his restraint when could become invisible anytime he chose. I wondered if he ever took advantage of women, as I surely would. Did he ever watch Margo Lane go to the bathroom? I knew that if I had the power to be invisible I would go into the girl’s bathroom at P.S. 70 and watch them pulling their drawers down.
...The thought of having this power made my ears hot. Yes, I would spy on naked girls but I would also do good. I would invisibly board a ship, or, better still, a China Clipper, and I would fly to Germany and find out where Adolf Hitler lived. I would in absolute safety, with no chance of being caught, go to Hitler’s palace, or whatever it was, and kill him. Then I would kill all of his generals and ministers. The Germans would be going crazy trying to find the invisible avenger. I would whisper in their ears to be good and kind, and they would thereafter be thinking God had been speaking. The shadow had no imagination. He neither looked at naked women nor thought ot ridding the world of dictators like Hitler or Mussolini. If his program hadn’t been on a Sunday afternoon I would probably not have listened to it...
Excerpted from World's Fair 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.