Homer and Langley, by E.L. Doctorow

Book 50


Doctorow’s latest novel made a big splash last year partly because it is (very loosely) based on the lives of a pair of eccentric, reclusive brothers that lived on 5th Avenue.  Basically, Doctorow took a couple of facts – the brothers lived alone in a huge, inherited townhouse, they retreated from the world and hoarded stuff until  they were old men.  Finally, they were found dead: one was crushed by stuff and the other, who was disabled, starved to death.

Doctorow imagined how they might have lived in their own heads as the world continue to turn around them.  Awesome premise.

I mostly bought it.  The perspective was a first person narrative of Homer, the physically disabled brother.  Langley is the brother that came home from the (frist World) War badly damaged.  As Langley’s mental health slowly deteriorates, Homer just kind of goes along with all the weirdness.  Buying and reading every city paper – morning and evening – and keeping them, was the very first.  There were several times when I found myself saying to Homer, “Dude….stop him now!”  But I guess when you are caught up in the madness every single day, it is easy to lose the big picture of the situation.

This book was sad and now that I am thinking about it, the other Doctorow novels I have read are infused with sadness.  He must be really good to keep me coming back.

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