Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Read for Book Group: "Homer and Langley" by E.L. Doctorow

Read for Book Group: Homer and Langley by E.L. Doctorow, 9781400064946, 2009.

I've read a couple other Doctorow novels and enjoyed them. A blurb on the back of this says the book is "spellbinding". I think that guy read a different book.

Narrated by Homer. Homer and Langley were born in the late 1800s. Their parents were wealthy NYC socialites living on Fifth Avenue. During WWI Langley is in the service when both parents die - one of the flu. Homer went blind as a teenager and Langley gets gassed in France. Langley cares for Homer and the brothers are fairly close.

Both of them turn reclusive and Langley's hoarding fills the house with newspapers and other junk he picks up when traveling the city. Langley's initial goal is to collate all the usual happenings in the world - crime, politics, disasters, etc. - into a single newspaper issue that can be re-read every day. Their reclusiveness is gradual. During the '20s and '30s when they were younger they would hit the nightclubs. At one point in the '30s they hosted "tea parties" for a dollar a couple and the parties would fill three rooms of their large home. They also had servants who kept them somewhat social and in touch with reality.

Homer comes across to me as an immortal person who just lets things come to him. Days pass by without concern - as if the days are unlimited. What would be small events to other people are important milestones to me.

Not all that exciting a novel. Good thing it is only 208 pages.

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