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Homer And Langley (2011)

Homer and Langley (2011)

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3.54 of 5 Votes: 3
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0349122598 (ISBN13: 9780349122595)
Little, Brown Young Readers

About book Homer And Langley (2011)

Wonderful book. Read it in a day. I gave always been fascinated by 'hoarders' before I even knew what they were. There was a woman in a nearby town, whose house I often passed while driving, who kept a long row of 'stuff' down both sides of her front walkway. This stuff was covered by pieces of canvas, and I'd often see her walking up and down the front walk adjusting the canvas covers. I had no idea what was going on - I honestly thought she kept firewood out there, maybe. Then I saw her no more, and as time went by I realized her house was actually splitting in two. As time went by you could see 'things' spilling from windows - furniture, books, boxes of items. You could also see more things in the actual split of the house; and this was a huge house, an old farmhouse. Eventually the house was bulldozed and now a new, modern building sits on the same site.But like I said, the idea that she was mentally ill, or a hoarder, or whatever, did not occur to me until much later, when the TV shows that feature hoarders became popular. I also watched these, very interested in what made these people 'tick,' but at some point I realized I was watching a show that used (and even exploited) mentally ill people as its draw and I stopped watching.So when I found out E.L. Doctorow had written this book - how had I missed it when it came out? - I gobbled it up. A fictionalized account of two real figures, who sort of dissolve into mental illness little by little, the book is a fascinating read. Full of detail - and a lot of speculation - plus insight into who these men might have been, and what might (or probably) happened to them.Also very sad. But worth a read. Really worth it. This is a sweeping "historical" novel, and yet it's also a deeply personal novel. Doctorow manages to give us both epicness and introversion in one work, and the dichotomy, the reaching for both ends of the spectrum at the same time, works marvelously. It's an incredibly thought-provoking look at how the macro (US history) affects the micro (personal/family history), told by a narrator who is engaging and original.The novel is narrated by Homer Collyer, the blind younger brother, and it never steps out of his mind. There are no asides from other characters' points-of-view, no cut-aways. Also of significance, Homer never gives us exact dates for things -- being blind, time seems to be more fluid for him than for those of us daily assaulted by "time, date and temperature" information at every turn -- and yet we still understand how many years have gone by, how things have changed in the world. We hear of major US historical events through the people Homer and his brother encounter, but what Homer experiences tends towards movements rather than moments; it's almost the antithesis of "Forrest Gump." Rather than inserting his characters directly into major events, Doctorow has them experience those events at a remove, mirroring real life for the common person. How often have we asked each other "where were you when...?"The novel has a claustrophobic feel to it that is endemic to the characters (the blind narrator, the damaged brother) and to their setting: the more-and-more-closed-off mansion house they continue to live in on Fifth Avenue long after the place should have been condemend. Doctorow must have drawn some influence/inspiration from the real-life "Grey Gardens" story, but the surface connection (of reclusive relatives living in increasing squalor) is all there is. Doctorow gender-shifts the characters, sets the tale in Manhattan instead of the Hamptons, and ties the characters' personal lives more closely to national history than the directors of the "Grey Gardens" documentary attempted to do.I can't discuss the end of the novel without spoiling it, but months later I can say I'm still torn as to whether it is the most hopeless resolution of a book I've ever read, or if there is indeed a glimmer of hope at the very end. My answer to that varies depending on the day.EDIT TO ADD: I only discovered as I went to post this review to Amazon that Homer and Langley Collyer were in fact real people, upon whom Doctorow loosely based the book. I'm leaving my review intact, however, to show what my initial reaction to the book was.)

Do You like book Homer And Langley (2011)?

A masterpiece about life, America, individuality, loneliness and love. Loved it.

A decent book, very loosely based on N.Y.C.'s Collyer brothers.

Very interesting, very creepy ending...


Hated it!

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