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I read and listened to this book because I was taking a class about Depression-era film & literature. What Dos Passos did was integrate a colloquial, real, personal, and fictional history in the U.S.A. trilogy ("The Big Money" is the third part of the trilogy). He used real headlines from newspapers of the time period along with advertising slogans and pop songs in the "Newsreel" portions of the novel. These are really fun to hear through the audio performance, and one of the reasons it is worth listening to.
The "Camera Eye" portion of the novel was harder to listen to, and in truth, it is difficult to read without some contextual information. These are largely stream-of-consciousness portions which Dos Passos used to describe his own memories. They are poetic at times--and like most poetry--benefit from being seen on the page.
The biography sections of the novel are fantastic, and worth the price of the book. His depictions of T. Veblen, I. Duncan, W. Hearst, The Wright Bros. (and more!) are fascinating studies of the larger-than-life historical figures whom we might have only heard about in positive ways in history books. A definite strength of the book.
His fictional portions, the characters he strings through these other portions of the book are engaging and interesting. A satisfying read, worth your time and money.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
Read the first two parts of the three-book novel in paperback..The first part was getting used to the style and disjointed nature...Following the characters is tough, but eventually you let the whole thing wash over you..The biographies, newsreels and Camera's Eye were welcome distractions..Powerful, tragic, infuriating and apropos..Update the references and you could write a similar book today..Not much has changed...