Kelly (tunnels_of_loce) wrote in bookish,

Review: Homer & Langley by E.L. Doctorow

Homer & Langley by E.L. Doctorow
Genre: Fiction
Page Count: 224 for the hardcover version according to Amazon, however I have a paperback copy with 208 pages.
Publishing Date: September 1, 2009

Summary: (from
From Ragtime and Billy Bathgate to The Book of Daniel, World’s Fair, and The March, the novels of E. L. Doctorow comprise one of the most substantive achievements of modern American fiction. Now, with Homer & Langley, this master novelist has once again created an unforgettable work.

Homer and Langley Collyer are brothers–the one blind and deeply intuitive, the other damaged into madness, or perhaps greatness, by mustard gas in the Great War. They live as recluses in their once grand Fifth Avenue mansion, scavenging the city streets for things they think they can use, hoarding the daily newspapers as research for Langley’s proposed dateless newspaper whose reportage will be as prophecy. Yet the epic events of the century play out in the lives of the two brothers–wars, political movements, technological advances–and even though they want nothing more than to shut out the world, history seems to pass through their cluttered house in the persons of immigrants, prostitutes, society women, government agents, gangsters, jazz musicians . . . and their housebound lives are fraught with odyssean peril as they struggle to survive and create meaning for themselves.

Brilliantly conceived, gorgeously written, this mesmerizing narrative, a free imaginative rendering of the lives of New York’s fabled Collyer brothers, is a family story with the resonance of myth, an astonishing masterwork unlike any that have come before from this great writer.

I was lucky enough to recieve an advance copy of this book from the First Reads program at I had never read anything by E.L. Doctorow before, nor had I heard of the Collyer brothers (yes, they were real people) so I went into this with a pretty open mind. It's a short novel, but it's packed with quirky characters, rich details and interesting musings about life and love. I couldn't help but be reminded of Forrest Gump from the way American history played out in the lives of the two brothers and Grey Gardens for the way they were recluses inside their home. It'll make you think, and I don't think that there is a character in this book that someone won't relate to. I was captivated by it and had a hard time tearing myself away. Overall, I would give it a 4/5.

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Tags: review, xxx author last name: a-h

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