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Homer & Langley: A Novel by E.L. Doctorow
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Homer & Langley: A Novel (edition 2009)

by E.L. Doctorow

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Member:Grey_Coopre
Title:Homer & Langley: A Novel
Authors:E.L. Doctorow
Info:Random House (2009), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 224 pages
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Homer & Langley by E. L. Doctorow

  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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English (124)  Danish (2)  Catalan (2)  Italian (2)  Spanish (1)  All (131)
Showing 1-5 of 124 (next | show all)
"[Langley] had brought home a nudist magazine that was fervent in its advocacy of radical health regimens. Not that we were to about without clothes, but that, for instance, heavy doses of vitamins A through E reinforced with herbs and certain ground nuts found only in Mongolia might not only ensure long life but even reverse pathological conditions such as cancer and blindness. So now I found at the breakfast table, beside the usual bowl of viscous oatmeal, handfuls of capsules and nuts and powdered leaves of one kind or another, which I dutifully swallowed to no appreciable affects as far as I could determine." At times humorous and at times poignant or sad, sometimes hopeful and sometimes hopeless, "Homer & Langley" is an interesting character study of two brothers - one physically limited by blindness and the other limited by cynicism and PTSD. Orphaned, the brothers form a family from the household servants, but as the servants age and die, or leave their employ, the brothers find themselves more and more isolated from the world as they retreat into a world of their own. The story reads slowly but nevertheless keeps you engaged as Doctorow weaves incredibly detailed characterizations and a perspective on life - on hopes and dreams and disappointments and small victories. I am not much of a fan of character studies but this one drew me in and kept me reading until Homer (the narrator) reaches that point which we all will share one day. ( )
  Al-G | May 15, 2018 |
I think it's time to just admit to myself that Doctorow and I are never going to hit it off.
This is about the fifth book of his I've tried to read, and an equal number abandoned from boredom with the writing style and plot. I understand why he's popular, I just don't care for it myself.
  Yaaresse | Apr 24, 2018 |
I think a good deal of the reason I got so behind in reviewing my books is my reluctance to write about this one. There was a fair amount of pressure to do so -- I got this book free as a part of a publicity giveaway in advance of publication, and they even followed up with a postcard to remind me to post a review (before I'd even read the book.) So, dutifully I moved the book to the top of my to-read pile, finished it fairly quickly, then... stalled.

I simply have no strong opinions on this book. I enjoyed it enough to read quickly, yet was almost always conscious that if this book hadn't been free, I never would have read it. Based on real life peole (which I actually didn't realize while reading it), it tells the stories of two brothers who become increasingly cut off from the world, Homer by blindness and Langley by his bitterness caused by his wartime experience. They hole up in their massive house (left to them by their parents) in New York City, interacting with outsiders only rarely (but usually very memorably), and slowly boxing themselves in with Langley's growing compulsion to collect and hoard.

Now, I have some hoarding compulsions myself, but I was never able to really connect with Langley. And while the novel said some interesting things about the value of community, they were said rather obliquely, and were never in focus. So, to the reader with no previous exposure to the Collyer brothers legend, what was the point? ( )
  greeniezona | Dec 6, 2017 |
I haven’t read Doctorow in a long time, but always enjoyed him. Like many of his books, it is a fictional takeoff on real-life events and people, in this case the reclusive Collyer brothers who turned their Manhattan brownstone into a squalid hoarders’ nest. The book is narrated by blind Homer (I would have faulted Doctorow for naming his blind character Homer, except that part is absolutely true) but Langley is the more compelling character. A World War I vet suffering from severe PTSD, Langley is the hoarder, a complete misanthrope, and dedicated to the crazy task of created one generic newspaper issue that would stand for all time. He is an oddly likeable character, even though the reader has to wonder if somewhat saner Homer would have had a better chance in life were he not in thrall to his dominant brother. ( )
  CasualFriday | Nov 28, 2017 |
fictionalized story 2 recluse NYC Brothers
Live +/ war + century — one blind one mad — very touchingly written

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.
  christinejoseph | Jul 5, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 124 (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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