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New Meetup: Homer & Langley by E.L. Doctorow

From: Kimberli
Sent on: Friday, April 30, 2010 12:29 AM
Announcing a new Meetup for Columbia Meetup Book Club!

What: Homer & Langley by E.L. Doctorow

When: Thursday, May 27,[masked]:00 PM

Panera Bread
6435 Dobbin Road
Columbia, MD 21045

Homer & Langley
by E.L. Doctorow
Hardcover: Sep 2009,
224 pages.

Book Summary

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.

Book Reviews

BookBrowse - Natasha Vargas-Cooper
Literally walled off, the brothers reinforce Doctorow's motif of isolation, embodying the modern mood of alienation that permeated 20th century culture. A fantastic feat completed through mundane means.
Full Review (1034 words).

Kirkus Reviews

Usually a master at incorporating history into rich fiction, Doctorow offers few insights here and a narrator/hero who is never more than a cipher.

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. It's a feat of distillation, vision and sympathy.

Library Journal
Starred Review. Doctorow in a minor key but as accomplished as ever.

The Los Angeles Times - David Ulin
The author tells another uniquely American story, but he falls short of a big challenge. [Much of Homer and Langley] fails to reflect the complex, messy exigencies of either history or life.

The Washington Post
Doctorow again creatively reconfigures and amplifies the historical record?There's a briskness to Homer & Langley that never flags, and its solitary protagonists?two lost souls?possess a half-comical, half-nightmarish fascination.

The Wall Street Journal

If the novel succeeds in making us care about the Collyers, the reason is Mr. Doctorow's own whiplash use of language, a daring, poetic meditation in prose of the kind that is familiar from his earlier novels, such as Ragtime, Billy Bathgate and The March.

The New York Times
The achievement of Doctorow's masterly, compassionate double portrait is that it succeeds for 200 pages in suspending the snigger, elevating the Collyers beyond caricature and turning them into creatures of their times instead of figures of fun.

Readers Guide to follow.

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