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Homer & Langley

3.57  ·  Rating Details  ·  7,923 Ratings  ·  1,525 Reviews
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 w ...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published September 1st 2009 by Random House
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Will Byrnes
Apr 06, 2016 Will Byrnes rated it it was ok
The bachelor Collyer brothers, of a respected family, were reclusive hoarders who lived in a Manhattan brownstone. After their bodies were found in 1947 more than a hundred tons of trash was removed from their house. Doctorow has taken the historical pair and put them to other uses. He looks at a wide swath of 20th century American history through the windows of their Fifth Avenue house, extending their lives beyond 1947, swapping some details between the brothers, and tossing in a cast of illus ...more
4 stars

"Ah my brother, don't you see? The ultimate technological achievement will be escaping from the mess we've made. There will be none after that because we will reproduce everything that we did on earth, we'll go through the whole sequence all over again somewhere else, and people will read my paper as prophecy, and know that having gotten off one planet, they will be able to destroy another with confidence."

When I began reading this book, I had no idea that Homer and Langley Collyer were r
Oct 20, 2009 Cassy rated it liked it
Recommended to Cassy by: Houston's Inprint Reading Series
I was lucky enough to attend a lecture by E. L. Doctorow where he read from “Homer and Langley” and was interviewed onstage. He joked that the story of the Collyer brothers had become an American myth and that, as with all myths, one does not need to research, only interpret.

This book is essentially the rambling of an old, blind man, Homer as he reflects back on his life spent with his trusty brother, Langley in their family’s mansion in New York City. The book doesn’t have chapters or parts. I
Jennifer D
Jan 17, 2016 Jennifer D rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Quirky People
Well, this book is absolutely beautiful. I am still thinking about what I want to say about Homer & Langley, while simultaneously composing a letter to E.L. Doctorow in my head. I felt this novel deeply and I am marveling at Doctorow's ability with words and language which activate the senses while creating images that linger.

More of a review to come.

Okay, so after pondering for a couple of days, here is what I have come up with:

This novel was released in 2009, but just this past fall, the
Kee Saitama
"What do we really know? If every question is answered so that we know everything there is to know about life and the universe, what then? What will be different? The darkness will be there still. The deepest darkness. The darkness that is deeper than any sea-dingle."

This was a book I was pleased to read among my Batman graphic novels for July, weekly marathon and subsequent reviews for Batman: The Animated Series, and an assortment of shoujo/josei manga. It was only two-hundred and a few page
Bob Redmond
Jul 20, 2010 Bob Redmond rated it it was amazing
Doctorow's books, at least the two that I've read, proceed so patiently that you almost get bored. Perhaps in the same way that one might get "bored" watching an elephant or great blue heron: a thing of slow beauty.

So the story doesn't move like an episode of "24." It's OK. Doctorow is eating you all the while, a python novelist wrapping himself around you until one little squeeze will do you in. The last four short sentences of HOMER & LANGLEY, for instance (like the final chapters of WORLD
Sep 10, 2015 Chloe rated it really liked it
Recommended to Chloe by: Goodreads Firstreads
There's something both alluring and repulsive about compulsive hoarders. Once, a few years ago, I had to help clean out the house of one of my in-laws’ neighbors who had just died. Entering the man’s house was like stepping into an Egyptian tomb; relics from countless eras stacked methodically to the ceiling, knick knacks piled haphazardly in corners and on top of the mantle. Moving around was limited by the small pathways the man had carved through his treasures, though they were not so much pa ...more
Sep 20, 2009 Rebecca rated it it was ok
I understand Doctorow is writing fiction; hell, I love his blending of reality and fictional fantasy in Ragtime. However, the real life of the Collyer brothers is so interesting and heartbreaking it doesn't need thirty extra years, various young women and other devices out of the writer's toolbox. This book has a hollow feeling at its core, completely unlike the stuffed-to-the-cornices Collyer mansion on New York City's Fifth Avenue. Homer and Langley (for whatever unnecessary reason, at least t ...more
Georgina Koutrouditsou
Mar 06, 2016 Georgina Koutrouditsou rated it really liked it
Όταν τελειώνεις ένα τέτοιο έργο έχεις ανάμεικτα συναισθήματα..
Από τη μία είχες την ευκαιρία να μπεις στον κόσμο ενός σπουδαίου συγγραφέα,να τον δεις να ξετυλίγει μια μοναδική ιστορία με έναν εκπληκτικό τρόπο και γι'αυτό νιώθεις τυχερός & χαρούμενος και από την άλλη η θεματική του βιβλίου,οι ήρωες και τα βιώματά τους σου προκαλούν άθελά τους(;) μια θλίψη.

Ο Doctorow ήταν συνεχώς μπροστά μου:το όνομά του & τα βιβλία του τα συναντούσα σε συνεντεύξεις αγαπημένων συγγραφέων,το "Ragtime" είναι
David Lentz
Feb 11, 2015 David Lentz rated it it was amazing
E.L. Doctorow is a wonder among living American novelists and in "H&L" he offers much to contemplate in his historical novel about the evolution of two wounded brothers and the New York in which they reside. Homer, as the classical name suggests, is a contemporary blind writer who relies upon his sighted brother Langley, wounded by mustard gas in WWI. They evolve into nearly total recluses living in a once stately manse across 5th Avenue from Central Park. The times, they are a-changing and ...more
João Carlos
Jul 23, 2015 João Carlos rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: l2014

E. L. Doctorow (1931 - 21 de Julho 2015)

O escritor norte-americano E. L. Doctorow (1931 - 2015) publicou em 2009 o romance “Homer & Langley” baseado na história verídica dos irmãos Collyer, reclusos na sua mansão na Quinta Avenida, Nova Iorque, e que foram encontrados mortos e soterrados em mais de 140 toneladas de lixo e de outros objectos.

Mansão dos irmãos Collyer, na Quinta Avenida, Nova Iorque

Homer é o narrador, o irmão cego, que perdeu a vista lentamente no final da adolescência, - “foi
Ubik 2.0
Sep 23, 2015 Ubik 2.0 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Il novecento visto dalla 5th Avenue

Eccellente sorpresa questo romanzo che riporta Doctorow ai livelli degli anni 70-80 quando l’autore scrisse i suoi capolavori (Ragtime, Il libro di Daniel, Billy Bathgate), resi indimenticabili anche da notevoli versioni cinematografiche (a cura di Forman, Lumet e Benton).

Difficilmente però qualcuno potrà portare sullo schermo questa incredibile vicenda (che le cronache dicono ispirata a fatti veri!) con un io narrante cieco e un fratello coprotagonista, compu
Il romanzo è scritto prendendo spunto dalla storia realmente avvenuta dei fratelli Collyer, che, dopo una vita interessante e movimentata, si rinchiudono nel palazzo paterno, a Manhattan, dove accumulano in modo sconsiderato quantità spropositate di oggetti di tutti i generi fino ad avere sempre meno contatti con il mondo esterno, fino a rimanere sepolti all'interno.

Questa storia, anomala e quasi assurda, è narrata con molta tenerezza ed eleganza da Homer, il fratello cieco, che descrive le tant
Doctorow vuelve a darnos una clase magistral de cómo recrear la historia. Partiendo de un hecho verídico, el del descubrimiento de los cuerpos de los hermanos Collyer en su mansión de la Quinta Avenida en Manhattan, Doctorow nos relata su versión de cómo podrían haber llegado a ese estado. O más bien, en palabras del propio autor: "Como mitos que son, los hermanos Collyer requerían no que se investigara sobre ellos sino que se les interpretara."



La historia está narrada por Homer Collyer, el herm
aPriL does feral sometimes
Two men blind to their life (one literally) accumulate stuff barely useful or actually totally useless to their actual purposes in New York City, where this takes place (view spoiler). Metaphor to our American way of life? A warning to change our frenzied collecting and mall-rat culture? A literary look at how a lifetime of collecting memories might weigh us down spirituall ...more
Meg M
Mar 21, 2011 Meg M rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book presses in on me. In a bad way, like walls closing in. I finished it an hour ago, tossed it on the nightstand and turned out the light. And I couldn't sleep; all I could think was how scary and wrong and inevitable the ending was. I close my eyes and see the world through Langley's mad eyes and then my own eyes fly open again. It's keeping me up tonight, this tale of two brothers. I didn't like the story. I didn't like the constant invasion of space that heaped up throughout the book. ...more
"People pass out of one's life and all you can remember of them is their humanity, a poor fitful thing of no dominion, like your own."

This is probably Doctorow's funniest novel I've read. It's not all out laugh out loud funny, but it's more chuckles than you can afford to expose in a quite cafe.
Oh my, Homer, Langley, their filial bond is a marvel. We never get to chose who out brothers are but at least we get a say in who we can call family. And these two Collyer brothers live up to this premis
Blake Fraina
Sep 10, 2011 Blake Fraina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was very intrigued to discover that successful author E.L. Doctorow had written a novel about the infamous Collyer brothers. If you’re not familiar with their story, they were New York City socialites who became obsessive hoarders and recluses, eventually dying in the squalid remains of their once fabulous uptown townhouse.

The author plays fast and loose with the details of the Collyer’s lives – chiefly by letting them survive through almost the entire Twentieth Century - as opposed to chronic
Apr 04, 2016 Joe rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
This author’s books blend fact – usually, but not always New York history – with fiction, by vividly bringing to life, times, places and characters from the past - all tied together with an interesting storyline. Homer & Langley follows this formula, chronicling two NYC brothers through 50+ years of the last century, but unfortunately without an engaging tale.

Homer and Langley Collyer – real people - made national news in 1941 after their bodies were found inside their Harlem brownstone. The
Jan 15, 2016 Jana rated it really liked it
Unbelievable. Truth is stranger than fiction in the case of the Collyer brothers. And in this novelization we get to imagine what it might have been like day after day, year after year for these eccentric brothers living on Fifth Avenue in that OH SO WEIRD existence. The book is written from the viewpoint of Homer, who for most of his life is blind. Really? Homer is the blind one? See truth is stranger than fiction. I found him ever so likable. And I loved the musical aspects of his life. His pi ...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
Homer & Langley, E.L. Doctorow
عنوان: هومر و لنگلی؛ ای.ال. دکتروف؛ مترجم: الهام نظری؛ تهران، افراز، 1390، در 216 ص؛ شابک: 9789646005218497؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان امریکایی قرن 21 م

عنوان: هومر و لنگلی؛ ای.ال. دکتروف؛ مترجم: وحید روزبهانی؛ تهران، ماهی، 1391، در 192 ص؛ شابک: 9789642091539؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان امریکایی قرن 21 م
Jul 21, 2015 Sera rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Sera by: Jennifer D
What a great book! I didn't realize that it was based upon a true story until today. The story is about two brothers who grew up in a privileged home on Fifth Avenue. One becomes blind (Homer); and the other, Langley, may or may not be crazy after he obtains an injury while fighting in WWI.

Similar to his other books (e.g., Ragtime and The March), Doctorow takes his characters and uses them to tell the story about what is happening in the world around them and to provide their perspectives in re
What a brilliant book. The very real Collyer brothers of NYC circa 1880 to 1947 are fictionalized and we are invited into their thoughts and private actions during the mysterious decades they spent secluded in their 4 storey brownstone mansion on Fifth ave. Doctorow gives them some extra fictional decades - letting them live until their 80s, thus surviving, to comment on & in their way, be a part of, those tumultuous years of American history.

They live a brilliant, codependent folie a deux;
Stephen Gallup
Jul 20, 2015 Stephen Gallup rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was pretty far into this beautifully told (and narrated) tale--about two highly eccentric brothers living in Manhattan, one blind from an early age and the other given to a kind of brutal nihilism as a consequence of being gassed during WWI--before suspecting that the characters might've been real people. A quick online search then revealed that a Homer and Langley Collyer did indeed lead infamously reclusive lives for many decades in a Fifth Avenue brownstone, until being found dead there in ...more
Jan 26, 2015 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing
Shelves: signed-firsts
When I was lamenting that I hadn't found a five-star book last year, a close friend insisted that I was wrong. She reminded me how much I loved this book. She's right. Homer and Langley Collyer were five-star characters for me. From the outside, Homer and Langley would appear to languish in the throes of mental illness, hoarding and isolation. But Doctorow manages to create meaning and poignancy out of out of the clutter, chaos and overwhelming darkness of the Collyer brothers' lives. These are ...more
Jan 08, 2016 Jaksen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Wonderful book. Read it in a day.

I gave always been fascinated by 'hoarders' before I even knew what they were. There was a woman in a nearby town, whose house I often passed while driving, who kept a long row of 'stuff' down both sides of her front walkway. This stuff was covered by pieces of canvas, and I'd often see her walking up and down the front walk adjusting the canvas covers. I had no idea what was going on - I honestly thought she kept firewood out there, maybe. Then I saw her no mor
Apr 18, 2010 Barbara rated it liked it
It was a pleasant diversion reading this book. Doctorow has created a fictionalized tale of the Collyer brothers, who lived their lives in solitude in a once elaborate brownstone in NY. They were found dead in 1947 and much publicity evolved from the horrifying state of their much decayed living quarters.During their lives there they had managed to accumulate mountains of things, from a Model T in their dining room, to monstrous piles of newspapers and a multitude of incredible objects. Doctorow ...more
Charles Matthews
Oct 25, 2011 Charles Matthews rated it liked it
Doctorow has taken a true story, that of a pair of eccentric recluses who lived in accumulating disorder, and fictionalized it effectively. He extends the lifespan of the real Collyer brothers, who died in 1947, into the 1970s, and tinkers with other details, such as the birth order of the brothers (Homer was in fact the elder) and the onset of Homer's blindness, which happened much later in his life. The story is told from Homer's point of view, evoking the other legendary blind Homer.

The nove
Sep 12, 2009 Bill rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who likes Doctorow or quirky fiction
Shelves: fiction, lit-fiction
Excellent novel by a great writer. It's about 2 eccentric brothers living in New York City, who gradually become more and more reclusive as their house becomes completely full of stuff. They even have a Ford Motel T in the dining room! All in all avery good read, and quick too, as it's only 208 pages.
Jul 29, 2010 Cecilia rated it it was amazing
Doctorow’s fictionalized account of real-life brothers, Homer & Langley Collyer is touching, sad and sometimes humorous. The shy brother is musically talented and invites ladies to concerts he gives in his home as a novel way to meet them; the other brother is scientifically oriented, always creating one odd gadget or other. Plus, he is obsessed with current events leading to his idea of creating only one newspaper...the only newspaper that will ever need to be printed since events repeat th ...more
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Scott County Readers: Book Talk 7 19 Oct 08, 2012 05:54AM  
  • Devil's Dream
  • Exiles in the Garden
  • The Saskiad
  • Far Bright Star
  • Ghosty Men: The Strange but True Story of the Collyer Brothers, New York's Greatest Hoarders: An Urban Historical
  • Sunnyside
  • Barnbruden
  • A Monster's Notes
  • Woodsburner
  • How It Ended: New and Collected Stories
  • The Transformation of Bartholomew Fortuno
  • Finn
  • The Voyage
  • The Invisible Mountain
  • Body of Knowledge
  • The Sonderberg Case
  • No Crystal Stair: A Documentary Novel of the Life and Work of Lewis Michaux, Harlem Bookseller
  • The Darling
E. L. DOCTOROW’S works of fiction include Homer & Langley,The March, Billy Bathgate, Ragtime, the Book of Daniel, City of God, Welcome to Hard Times, Loon Lake, World’s Fair, The Waterworks, and All the Time in the World. Among his honors are the National Book Award, three National Book Critics Circle Awards, two PEN Faulkner Awards, The Edith Wharton Citation for Fiction, and the presidential ...more
More about E.L. Doctorow...

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“There is music in words, and it can be heard you know, by thinking.” 58 likes
“Grandmamma had been the last connection to our past. I had understood her as some referent moral authority to whom we paid no heed, but by whose judgments we measured our waywardness.” 6 likes
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