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Extended Audio Sample Homer & Langley: A Novel, 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:
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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 by 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 by 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 by 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 by 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. "

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