From reading Loon Lake, E.L Doctorow reminds me fondly of Cormac McCarthy - both writers glorify violence with graceful (albeit recondite) prose that is - personally, at least - refreshing to read.
Set in America during the Great Depression, Loon Lake follows the story of Joe Paterson, a wandering 'hobo' who initially finds solace working for a circus before he, the "wiseass street kid," is ultimately "gone in love, gone in aspiration, gone in the dazzlement of the whole man, the polished being."
Loon Lake adopts a convoluted structure that bedazzles and frustrates readers. Only until the last two pages did I truly appreciate the effectiveness of the structure; the story is told with poetry, eulogies and an overall remission of chronological sequence. Although it is initially difficult to delve into, Loon Lake is ultimately a grueling and rough story of ambition, truth and one's ability to adapt.
Standout quotes from the novel:
The poem is a cry of the unborn heart. Yes, because the poem perfectly embodies the world, there is no world without poem.
I cite too the ordinary fears of mortality the inspection of a fast-growing mole on the side of the nose blood in the stool a painful injury or the mournful witness of the slow death of a parent all this is given to all men as well as the starting awake in the nether hours of the night from such glutinous nightmare that on'e self name relationships nationality place in life all data of specificity wipe out amnesiatically asiatically you don't even know the idea human it is such a low hour of the night and he shares it with all of us.
He wondered seriously if love wasn't a feeling at all but a simple characterless state of shared isolation. If you were alone with a woman your feelings might change from moment to moment but the circumstance of your shared fate did not change. Maybe that's where the love was, in the combined circumstance. [...] They knew it could incorporate passion or prim distaste, it might be joyous or full of rage, it might carry extreme concern of any kind, or unconcern, but it was presumed to survive challenge. All it was, was a kind of neutral constancy. [... It was] nothing grand, nothing monumental, and not a prison either, but a sort of sturdy structure of outlook, one that wouldn't break under the weight of ideas and longing feelings terrors visions and the world's awful mordant surprises.