Homer & Langley may not be the product of E L Doctorow‘s finest writing, but stacked up against the usual run of popular contemporary fiction it has to be regarded as superior. This tale of the legendary Collyer brothers who perished in old age in their family’s once-elegant Fifth Avenue home offers a unique vantage point on New York society from the First World War until after the Second, ending with the brothers’ deaths in squalor in 1947.
We’re all familiar with the urban legend of the ancient recluse, holed up in a decrepit house crammed to the rafters with old newspapers and junk of every description. That legend may have begun with the Collyer brothers, whose eccentric behavior over three decades became notorious, first to their shocked neighbors and later to millions of New Yorkers through lurid accounts in the City’s press. Doctorow tells the story of their deterioration over the years in this thoroughly engrossing little book.
Homer & Langley by E L Doctorow ★★★★★
What is most remarkable about “Homer & Langley” are the inimitable characters of the two brothers, one blind and both clearly emotionally disturbed; the dynamic backdrop of New York through some of the most vigorous years of its history; and the extraordinary power of Doctorow’s writing.
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