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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE, THE ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, THE KANSAS CITY STAR, AND BOOKLIST 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 struggl…

Homer & Langley: A Novel

by E. L. Doctorow

Overall Book Review:

I don’t typically read books narrated solely by males, not because I am sexist or think women narrators are better, but simply because I am much more drawn to a story I can relate to. I haven’t read any other books by E.L. Doctorow, so I don’t know what his typical writing style is, but if this book is any indication of what his other books are like, I may have to give them a try.

At first glance, this story might not seem to be very deep or meaningful, but once I was fully immersed in the lives of the characters, two brothers named, (you guessed it!) Homer and Langley Collyer, I was able to see that what may seem like a book about two guys who go around picking through trash cans is actually a whole lot more. This is a book about two old men who have seen a lot of history in their life, and what they have experienced has seeped deep into their lives and personalities.

When I read a book, I like to find one character that really sticks out to me, one that I can relate to and feel like I actually know. In Homer & Langley I didn’t particularly like one of the brothers better than the other, though I did feel a lot of sympathy for both. One is blind and the other seems to be going crazy, and to live with either of those afflictions can’t be easy. I did find that one of the brothers was more likeable to me than the other, as one of them seemed to have an infatuation with women and that was a little creepy to me. However, for a book about the lives of two old men, this was a story that kept me reading and reading. E. L. Doctorow put me under his spell, and it wasn’t lifted until the very last page.

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language:  3 religious exclamations; 2 mild obscenities.

Violence/Gore:  A man threatens children with a gun; verbal threats are made; a character is mentioned to be injured in a war; parents mentioned to have died from an illness; rape and murder are mentioned with no description.

Sex/Nudity:  A sexual experience is mentioned with no detail; a brief sex scene between adults is described with no explicit detail; porn is mentioned with no description.

Mature Subject Matter:

Death, war, personal crises.

Alcohol / Drug Use:

Adults smoke; adults drink.

Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

Books and reading have always been an important part of my life. When I was very young, my grandma was the library director at our local public library. Years later, after she had retired, I became a librarian at the same library and worked there for several years before taking a part-time job at a local coffee shop, which gives me more time to do what I love, to read and to review books! A few of my favorite authors are Aimee Bender, Diane Chamberlain, and Curtis Sittenfeld however, I will read almost any book I come across! In my spare time you can find me reading (of course), volunteering at a wildlife animal rehab, or hanging out with my two house rabbits.