HOMER & LANGLEY by E. L. Doctorow

As one reads HOMER & LANGLEY and is swept along on its strange tide, one tries to raise one’s head intermittently to admire the craft. But that craft is, like the shoes made by the elves in story, so seamless, so perfect, that it’s hard to grasp until one is deposited on the other shore and left to linger for a while.

The novel uses the theme of the real-life case of the Collyer brothers, Homer and Langley Collyer, who lived on 5th Avenue in New York from the 1880s to 1947. A case of great notoriety, the brothers (suffering from extreme compulsive hoarding disorder) effectively mewed themselves up within their house. Over the decades this filled with newspapers, collections of mainly non-functional items, and garbage. They disassociated themselves from the outside world to the extent that their electricity and water supplies were cut off – a situation they did not attempt to rectify. After their death (caused directly by the accumulated items within the house), over 100 tons of hoarded rubbish were removed from the house.

September 6, 2010 · Judi Clark · 2 Comments
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