Friday, May 14, 2010
Review: Homer and Langley
This story takes place at the turn of the century. Their father is a physician and their mother is a opera singer. Their story about two wealthy and well to do sophistocated brothers. Both their parents died a month apart from Spanish Influenza.
The story is loosely based on the Collyer brothers. Homer is the narrator. Homer becomes blind, he likes music and becomes a pianist. Where Langley goes to college and is very interested in engineering. He likes to tinker with household items.
Langley goes off to Europe to fight in WW1. He Becomes mentally ill from the effects of the mustard gas.
Langley comes home from the war. Langley doesn't seem right, to Homer but he accepts him madness and all.
At this time they go out of the house, go to parties, with women, to speakeasies. They have tea parties, where the house is starting to fill with newspapers, and other micellaneous junk.
This is the start of the hoarding. Langley starts bringing things, and collecting item in the house including a model T into the dining room. They don't throw things away.
The last tea parties,the brothers had. The police chief confronted and blackmailed Langley. If you give me money under the table I will turn my eye. This is the start of Langley's anger against police, and the establishment.
Langley had a strange theory. He believed of The replacement of theory. Replacing one generation to the next with something better.
The brothers became reclusive after all the servants left. Langley did not want any communication coming into their world. When you read you can see everything in your mind. When you watch TV you loose your imagination. Homer believed that every room was becoming a obstacle course. He was loosing sense where everything was. " I was a traveler who had lost his map". Homer knew that Langley was not right but relied on him because of his blindness.
Toward the end of their life. Society was coming into their surrounding. The firemen entered their home that was becoming delapidated. The electric, water and phone companies were coming and knocking on their door for overdue and past utility bills. The banks were coming because of foreclosure of the house.
But Langley went down to the bank while everyone witnessed this strange person dressed strangely. At this time it was the 1960's. They allowed a few hippies in the house which the reclusive Langley and Homer fit in because of anti establishment ideas.
By the end of their life they had tons and tons of garbage filled to the gills, bursting through the walls.
Langley died first trying to bring food to his brother. Unfortunately the house was full of booby traps that killed him. Homer died waiting from food from Langley. They found Homer first.
They could not find Langley for weeks. He was found later under tons of garbage. This was the story of the century. They became a folklore heroes. The Colleyer's have a park named after them.
Hoarding is a psychiatric illness. Hoarding reality shows are televised frequently on television. They say people hoard to guard themselves from society. Hoarder don't like to throw things away because they want to keep the history. They feel like they are throwing apart of something away that someone gave them. EL Doctorow gave us the Colleyer brothers story interwined with history going on. The history was passing by in their lives. Like a blink of a eye.
I had a hard time figuring out what years when something happened in their life. Like I said before history just flew by. It possibly was meant for you to think history was passing without you figuring out what years they were talking about.
I realized the story takes place during WW1, society was full of life excesses and america was materialistic. Right before the stock market crash.
Also I thought some of the things that happened like the gangsters coming to the house was a bit far fetched. But possibly it was meant that way. Since their life story was strange too.
I did enjoy reading this because I did not know anything about the Colleyer brothers. This is the first time I read E. L. Doctorow, and his writing I enjoyed. It was not full of discription. But just enough to get the idea.
This is a very different kind of book that I have ever read. It did take me a few days to digest. I needed to think how I was going to write this review. No one send me a review copy. I did this for my book club.
STRANGE BUT TRUE
If you like history you might want to think about picking up a copy. I enjoyed it.