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.
©2009 E.L. Doctorow; (P)2009 Random House
I think what made this novel perfect for me was the narrator! He did a fantastic job of differentiating between the characters and pausing at just the right places. I really enjoyed the story as well. After I finished the book, I went online to read about the real Collyer Brothers. Fascinating!
I liked the initial description of Homer and of Langley - two brothers with different personalities who lived their lives intertwined with each other and their large family home. The idea was intriguing and at the start of interest, but it dragged on forever, and by the last few hours of the narration, I just wanted it to end. It was clear that the end was not going to be redemptive, so I felt "get it over with already".
End it sooner.
I did not have a favorite.
I like the way the you see the entire novel from the viewpoint of the brother who is blind. But in his words you see everything happening through his observations.
At times I felt like it was just passing the reader through generation to generation, in a trite way, hippies, etc. I could have done without that.
I don't believe I've ever heard him before this, but he is very good in this.
The end of course was the most moving to me.
A very real characterization of unusual brothers whose lives seem unreal to most of us.
Homer, a blind musician, who managed to stay sane in an insane environment
Probably Langley, to try to figure out what made him tick.
A great read, beautifully crafted.
Yes yes yes....so complex and well read I would love to listen to it again like a great record album. I had already read the hard cover years ago, and this was fresh as ever!
The Great Gatsby, Forrest Gump, Benjamin Button....an epic tale of interesting characters through which you see an era come and go.
Not sure...he was wonderful.
Yes....it made me recognize the genius of a great author like E.L.Doctorow who can turn the story of a pair of eccentrics (who might easily be exploited on reality TV today,) into a work of art.
Once you read Homer & Langley, if you love it, you will want to read everything EL Doctrow has ever written. Every last short story collection, his famous 'Billy Bathgate
I couldn't make it through this book. I didn't like the narrator's voice. The details are tedious. I could sympathize with Langley's radical opposition to society, but Homer's aloof regard of the situation was disengaging. This was my first time listening to or reading Doctorow, and I think it will also be my last.
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