Homer and Langley

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Homer and Langley Fiction
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Product Description

Homer and Langley Collyer are brothers - 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 a prophecy. The epic events of the past century play out in the lives of the two brothers, who want nothing more than to shut out the world. Yet their cluttered abode is a clearing house of immigrants, prostitutes, government agents, gangsters, and jazz musicians - their lives fraught with odyssean peril.

Editorial Reviews

Brothers live together in a decaying New York City mansion as history marches on in the latest from Doctorow (The March, 2005, etc.).Brothers Homer and Langley share a moneyed childhood in relative bliss, although narrator Homer is slowly going blind. Then both Homer's parents succumb to the Spanish flu epidemic in 1918, shortly before older brother Langley returns from service in World War I damaged by mustard gas. Increasingly eccentric (or deranged), Langley devotes his life to organizing articles from the newspapers he collects and never throws away. Homer's musical ambitions never come to much. Nor do his romantic affairs. Langley's one marriage is a disaster. But the brothers' lives touch on history, or its surface accoutrements, with a vengeance. Homer plays accompaniment for silent movies. Langley drives a Model T into the dining room. In the '20s they frequent speakeasies, where they meet a stereotypical gangster playboy who by the '50s has become more of a stereotypical Mafioso. Their African-American cook has a New Orleans jazz musician grandson. During the Depression the brothers throw "tea dances" to make extra money. The FBI whisk away a nice Japanese couple in the brothers' employ to a World War II internment camp. By the '50s Langley has acquired a television and a typewriter collection. By the '60s the brothers are taking in hippies as well as feral cats. Later Homer is dismayed to discover the young girl he once mentored as a musician and secretly loved has become an activist nun murdered in South America. As the brothers' funds shrink and the Fifth Avenue mansion they inherited falls into decay, the parallel to Gray Gardens comes to mind, particularly since an aging Homer types his memories on a Braille typewriter for a French journalist named Jacqueline.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. Author tour to Boston, New York, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles Copyright Kirkus 2009 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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