Thinking about Dos Passos

Re-reading the USA Trilogy again. The copy I have is one I gave to my brother Tim in 1968, back when we were fighting about the Vietnam War. The cover price for this two-inch thick illustrated softback, its cloth cover losing threads by now, is $2.85. I remember buying it in a bookstore in either San Francisco or Santa Rosa. Probably the former.
     Dos Passos had a grand vision for content and style. In my view, he wanted to present the sweep of events and characters that would create the U.S.A. of the 20th century. A big theme, and one that influenced me in the 60's, is the tension between labor and capital. He began pre-WWI in the first book of the trilogy, The 49th Parallel, and continued through the war until a few years after it. The result is a mosaic of news events, popular songs, short biographies of characters who shaped the times, like Eugene Debs, Robert Follett, Thomas Edison, a continuing stream of consciousness autobiography, and the developing stories of various characters, working men and women, businessmen, politicians, journalists.
     The period he writes about is the same in which my new novel Presto!
is set. The difference is that while DP's canvas is huge and crammed with content that gives a thorough sense of the times, I have restricted myself to the point of view of a single character and events that occur through a single ten day stretch. Yet I see that my character is affected by the many of the same events and the consciousness of the time DP so thoroughly depicts. I am inspired by his use of different styles of narrative, including the newspaper headlines. To think that even before radio, the many newspapers with their many daily editions were able to keep people, if not instantly informed, like now, at least current! As I work on either the last or next to last draft of Presto, I am thinking too of graphics within novels. How they can open and enhance the text.