Baker, Kevin. Dreamland. New York: Harper Collins, 1999.
It makes sense that a historian like Kevin Baker would write something as epic and sweeping as Dreamland. It is a beautifully blended tale of fiction and reality. Events like the Triangle Shirtwaist fire and people like Sigmund Freud and politics like Tammany Hall exist in harmony with fictional Coney Island gangsters and seedy carnival performers. It’s a world of underground rat fights, prostitution, gambling, and the sheer violent will to survive. It’s dirty and tragic. A love story hidden behind the grime, the colorful lights, the tricks, and the chaotic noise of New York.
Favorite lines that moved me: “That is always the thing with depravity: just when you think you’ve plumbed the very depths, there is always someplece lower to fall” (p 26).
“I sat behind the left ear of Satan, and watched the sun come up over Sheepshead Bay, and dreamed of an empire of little men and little women, ruled by a mad queen” (p 34).
BookLust Twist: From Book Lust in the chapter “American History: Fiction” (p 21). I think Pearl’s description says it all, ” Dreamlandvividly describes the lives of poor immigrants families on the Lower East Side of New York City, circa 1910, who find their lives somewhat more bearable by the promise of excitement of Coney Island” (p 21).