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Homer & Langley by E. L. Doctorow
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Homer & Langley

by E. L. Doctorow

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1,4711235,071 (3.75)144
  1. 20
    Kings of the Earth by Jon Clinch (GCPLreader)
    GCPLreader: another strong novel of fraternal love
  2. 00
    My Brother's Keeper by Marcia Davenport (sloreck)
    sloreck: Different take on same true story
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Showing 1-5 of 118 (next | show all)
starts out rather slow. Interesting but not the best Doctorow I've read. ( )
  deldevries | Jan 31, 2016 |
Beautifully, elegantly written. Profound, not pretentious; stark and tender at the same time. The new crop of self-consciously literary novelists could take a lesson from Doctorow. Makes me want to go back and read some others by him. ( )
  bibleblaster | Jan 23, 2016 |
Boy, he sure can string the sentences togther.

Everything good that there is about a novel. This is the first Doctorow novel I've read, and I will certainly be reading more. There is also a biography of these two brothers that I am going to have to read as well now that I've whetted my appetite for these crazy hermits.

A whole bunch of themes I can relate to in this one... the music, the collecting, the reclusiveness, etc... great stuff. He seems to have taken lots of liberties with the facts here, but I can see why... Langley was the pianist, not Homer... they died in the 40s, not the 70s... but it all works fine in the end.

The NY Times story from the time wrote what Langley was wearing when they found his body: a tweed jacket over blue-gray dungarees, over brown pants, over khaki pants and blue big overalls, with no underwear, but an onion sack worn like an ascot, and a gunnysack pinned to his shoulders. Now THAT'S pretty kooky. ( )
  BooksForDinner | Jan 21, 2016 |
Great, great book. This is the first Doctorow book I've read, and it definitely will not be the last. It's short, but reads like an epic novel, managing to chronicle the events of the 20th century while telling a sad but touching tale of brotherly love. Doctorow tells the story of the Collyer brothers through the "eyes" of the blind Homer. The book is made even greater by Doctorow's ability to place the reader both as an observer and in the shoes of Homer, so that the reader experiences not only the vivid imagery of the book, but also the heightening of other senses that comes with complete darkness. ( )
  joyhclark | Jan 20, 2016 |
This novel is loosely based on the real Collyer brothers. Homer and Langley are two brothers who live their whole lives in their family home on 5th Avenue across the street from Central Park in New York City. As a teenager, Homer loses his sight, and Langley begins a lifetime of taking care of him. While Langley is fighting in World War I, both of their parents die. Langley is sent home after he is exposed to mustard gas, and although he isn't really injured, he is never the same as he was before the war. The brothers live mostly in seclusion for decades, although a handful of people do come and go from their lives. Homer spends most of his time playing the piano, and Langley scavenges for any object that might be useful someday. Langley also goes out multiple times a day to buy every newspaper published in the city. His theory is that every event that happens is just a reiteration of similar events that came before, and his goal is to compile a universal newspaper that will be applicable forever. As the years pass and the brothers age, the house becomes filled to the brim with piles of newspapers and junk that Langley has brought home.

I've read a lot of Doctorow's books, and I've come to the conclusion that he and I don't really get along. It's not that his novels are bad; it's just that they're not my cup of tea. While I didn't actively dislike this one, I didn't really like it either. Some of the events that occurred in the book just seemed too far-fetched to be plausible. I'm sure there's a lot under the surface of the novel if you're in the mood for literary analysis, but I'd rather save that much effort for authors who I enjoy more. ( )
  AmandaL. | Jan 16, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 118 (next | show all)
This is Forrest Gump by way of Ecclesiastes, a sustained lament over the futility of human endeavor.
added by Shortride | editEsquire, Benjamin Alsup (Sep 30, 2009)
 
The achievement of Doctorow’s masterly, compassionate double portrait is that it succeeds for 200 pages in suspending the snigger, elevating the Collyers beyond caricature and turning them into creatures of their times instead of figures of fun.
 
I’m not sure “Homer & Langley” will stand as one of Doctorow’s best, but the story of two brothers united by their imaginations and disabilities ends up being a poignant one – rats, cockroaches, and all – and the ending has striking power.
 
Doctorow’s biggest weakness as a storyteller is his urge to act as a docent at the New York Historical Society. The inner life he gives to Homer is desultory – apart from a few brief love affairs, Homer’s days are marked by boredom and decline. To be additionally saddled with a grandfatherly tendency to long-windedness is a trait the novel can’t recover from.
 
A slight, unsatisfying, Poe-like story that turns out to be a study in morbid psychology.
 
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Epigraph
Dedication
To Kate Medina
First words
I am Homer, the blind brother.
Jsem Homer, ten slepý bratr.
Quotations
...umírají neviňátka, nikoli ti, kdo se už narodili silní, protože bez iluzí. (s. 18)
... byl dost mladý, aby věřil, že svět k němu bude fér, jen když on bude tvrdě pracovat, ze všech sil se snažit a dávat do hudby celé srdce. (s. 49)
Jedna z JoJových mizerně zpívaných písní mě zaujala. Začínala "Dobrejtro, lžičko". Debatovali sme o tom s Langleym. On si myslel, že vypovídá o osamělosti vypravěče, který ironicky oslovuje svůj příbor. Nesouhlasil jsem. Já jsem tvrdil, že mluvčí hovoří na svou pravděpodobně drobnou milenku, která se s ním ráno probouzí, a že lžička je prostě něžnůstka. (s. 117)
Jediná napínavá věc pro mě byla, kolik Lissiných blábolů budu muset vyslechnout cestou k nevyhnutelnému. (s. 118)
Dnes letí elektrifikovaní hudebníci, kteří si dávají existencialistická jména a přitahují rozsáhlé publikum lidí o něco mladších než oni, kteří by sami také moc rádi škubali pánví a ječeli a častovali tou uši rvoucí hudbou stadiony plné idiotů. (s. 122)
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Book description
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.

[retrieved May 23, 2013 from Amazon.com]
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A free imaginative rendering of the lives of New York's fabled Collyer brothers depicts Homer and Langley as recluses in their once grand Fifth Avenue mansion, facing odyssean perils as they struggle to survive the wars, political movements, and technological advances of the last century.… (more)

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