Darkness. E.L. Doctorow’s latest novel, Homer & Langley, brings readers into the strange world of the Collyer brothers, who lived eccentric lives in New York. While Doctorow based this novel on the real Collyer brothers and some of the facts of their lives, it is the inner life that Doctorow presents with great skill. Homer is blind, and while Langley has physical sight, his own darkness can often be more desolate than that of his brother. Doctorow’s writing led me to pause after finishing some sentences, and return to read them again to savor the experience. Here’s one example (p. 193), “There were mental shutters too and mine were closed tight and I turned back to what I could rely on, the filial bond.” Some shutters close gradually, and in many respects for both Homer and Langley, their descent into madness came slowly, adjusted each day by another step in a direction that became irreversible over time. Doctorow pulls this off with great skill and efficiency, allowing a reader to become absorbed page by page into Homer & Langley.
Rating: Four-star (Highly Recommended)