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Extended Audio Sample Homer & Langley: A Novel Audiobook, by E. L. Doctorow Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (4,910 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: E. L. Doctorow Narrator: Arthur Morey Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: September 2009 ISBN: 9780739334171
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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.

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Quotes & Awards

  • Following the panoramic scope of The March, Doctorow creates a microcosmic and mythic tale of compulsion, alienation, and dark metamorphosis inspired by the famously eccentric Collyer brothers of New York City… Doctorow has Homer, who is blind, narrate with deadpan humor and spellbinding precision…Over the decades, people come and go–lovers, a gangster, a jazz musician, a flock of hippies, but finally Homer and Langley are irrevocably alone, prisoners in their fortress of rubbish, trapped in their warped form of brotherly love. Wizardly Doctorow presents an ingenious, haunting odyssey that unfolds within a labyrinth built out of the detritus of war and excess. «–Booklist starred review «
  • “A sweeping masterpiece about the infamous New York hermits, the Collyer brothers…. Occasionally, outsiders wander through the house, exposing it as a living museum of artifacts, Americana, obscurity and simmering madness. Doctorow’s achievement is in not undermining the dignity of two brothers who share a lush landscape built on imagination and incapacities. It’s a feat of distillation, vision and sympathy. «–Publishers Weekly starred review «
  • Cunningly panoramic…Doctorow has packed this tale with episodes of existential wonder that cpature the brothers in all their fascinating wackiness. Elle
  • Doctorow paints on a sweeping historical canvas, imagining the Collyer brothers as witness to the aspirations and transgressions of 20th century America; yet this book’s most powerfully moving moments are the quiet ones, when the brothers relish a breath of cool morning air, and each other’s tragically exclusive company. O Magazine
  • Doctorow works his usual magic in bringing history to life and larding it with disturbing implications…As with much of Doctorow’s masterful fiction, Homer & Langley turns the American dream on its ear, offering us a glimpse of the dark side of our national–and personal–eccentricities. BookPage

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kasa Cotugno | 2/18/2014

    " While Doctorow was a boy, hos mother usd the Collyer brothers as an extreme example of why he should clean up his room, so growing up, he developed a wary interest in them and their story. Although this novel is populated with actual people, it is a work of fiction. A few years ago I saw a play on the subject of these packrat brothers called "The Dazzle," but this novel attempts to go int the mind of Homer Collyer, attempting insight into the reasons behind their compulsion. As always, he breathes life into a past era and a fascinating history. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Dave Moyer | 2/7/2014

    " Not the best of Doctorow, but very solid. An interesting look at humanity and the fine line between reality an unreality. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 T | 1/31/2014

    " This was my first book by Doctorow. It was a very readable book, but the story idea was a bit unbelievable (even though there had been a somewhat similar real life precedent for the story). "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 alana Semuels | 1/22/2014

    " Like many of Doctorow's characters, Homer and Langley march relentlessly through Interesting Historical Events and hobnob with Nearly Famous Historical Characters. They're good, unique characters, but I think Doctorow would have done better to make this book a short story, rather than a novel. There are so many historical events -- a bunch of wars, riots, love-ins -- that it starts to feel a bit trite. As Homer loses his senses as the novel goes on, Doctorow's writing gets sharper and the events seem less relevant. I wish he had cut out a few Events and focus more on Things, the weird things the duo collect and what that says about Americans and materialism. Or something. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jennifer | 1/17/2014

    " I was absolutely fascinated by this novel based on the Colyier brothers of New York City. Homer was blind, and Langley was left mentally askew after being gassed in WWI. They lived like misers in a 5th Avenue home with a large inheritance, and Langley became a hoarder. Of course, I had to go on line to see how much of this was really true. The pictures of their home taken after they die are unbelievable. Truth is definately stranger than fiction. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Carol | 1/13/2014

    " The only Doctorow book I've read which I felt was a clunker. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mikko Saari | 12/21/2013

    " A quick read, interesting story based on real life story of the Collyer brothers, though with major liberties taken on historical details. Interesting curiousity of a story, and a nice overview of a century in American life. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Doug | 12/17/2013

    " Had to abandon it because it was due back at the library. Not bad, but not by normal fare. It was too well written. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Terrieb99 | 12/17/2013

    " It was is a strangely sweet book about 2 brothers. I really did enjoy this odd couple. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Martha | 11/25/2013

    " the beginning of recognition of hoarding, a true story which made it all the more compelling, sad really. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Maryka Biaggio | 11/21/2013

    " Doctorow takes as his subjects two reclusive brothers who became the bane of New York City utility departments and object of fascination for the public. This is a finely done portrait of the brothers' tragic story. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 JoAnn Jordan | 2/22/2013

    " This is an excellent story about two brothers based on real life. It is at times sad and at times hilarious. The brothers are one blind and one disabled by war. They are great characters. I recommend this novel highly. I think most people will enjoy it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Irene Gravina | 12/4/2012

    " I am not finishing this book because I lent it to my sister-in-law. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Susan | 11/26/2012

    " I want ot know the day to day lives of these brothers. How bizarre. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Emelie Andrews Graham | 9/17/2012

    " I love this type of historical fiction / sort-of- reality/ voyeurism. I loved Grey Gardens, the original movie by the Maysels (not that Drew Barrymore junk). This is just like it. Loved it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Yeti | 9/10/2012

    " A brilliant book that tries too hard to be a chronicle of American history in too short a space. This is one time where I wish Doctorow hadn't constrained himself with his words. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Susie Sigel | 7/2/2012

    " With all the shows about horders, this really gets to the heart of the matter as only E,L. Doctrow can "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jessika Coltz | 6/17/2012

    " I didn't mind that it rambled... But if you're going to approach the brothers story with such care and slowness, why make it proceed beyond their lifetimes? "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kieron | 11/7/2011

    " Very good read.......a story that raced to its conclusion. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jamilah | 7/6/2011

    " Interesting fictionalized tale of the two brothers who lived a reclusive lifestyle in a 5th Ave. home, hoarded all kinds of items for decades, and were eventually found dead in their home. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jill Bratcher | 6/30/2011

    " I'd heard of the Collyer brothers in a book about hoarding, so I gave it a listen. (This is based on an audio CD.) It held my interest, and it was a fun ride through the various historical periods. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Delorian | 5/11/2011

    " A very slow read at first, but it gains momentum fast. Learning about the Harlem Renaissance, it brought a lot of insight that even I, a Harlem native, would find entertaining. For a pick up and read, i wouldn't recommend but as a book to learn about the time, i highly recommend it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sukamol | 5/6/2011

    " This book is very interesting. It is a book about life was during the old days. I would recommend this book because it was catch your attention. I had a great time reading Ragtime and comparing it to one of my school's field trip. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Justin | 5/2/2011

    " i mean, he's a fantastic writer, and i a pleasure to read, mostly. still, something overwhelming here that wasn't the case with his later work as much. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Peter | 5/2/2011

    " Certainly one of the finest books I've ever read. Doesn't happen very often. Not long ago I read a book called Carter Beats the Devil: that was very good, and it wants to be this book when it grows up. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lindsey | 5/1/2011

    " One of the best novels I've read in a long time. Packs so much about race, class, gender, ethnicity and more into a relatively short book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Aziza | 4/24/2011

    " Still reading it and so far I like the book. "

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About the Author

E. L. Doctorow (1931–2015) was known internationally for his works of historical fiction, including Ragtime, World’s Fair, and Billy Bathgate. He was honored with the National Book Award, three National Book Critics Circle awards, two PEN/Faulkner awards, the William Dean Howells Medal of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the presidentially conferred National Humanities Medal.

About the Narrator

Arthur Morey has won three AudioFile Magazine “Best Of” Awards: in 2011 for Biography and History, in for History and Historical Fiction, and in 2009 for Nonfiction and Culture. His work has also garnered multiple AudioFile Earphones awards, and he has been nominated for an Audie Award. He graduated from Harvard and did graduate work at the University of Chicago. He has won awards for his fiction and drama, worked as an editor with several book publishers, and taught literature and writing at Northwestern University. As a narrator, he has received nineteen AudioFile Earphones Awards and been a finalist for the prestigious Audie Award.