"I have always looked upon decay as being just as wonderful and rich an expression of life as growth." -Henry Miller

This is possibly a spoiler, although I think that knowing what is going to happen in this book would not in any way diminish your enjoyment of it.

I recently finished Homer and Langley by E.L. Doctorow. This is an exquisitely well written book. It's fiction, though it borrows many details from the lives of Homer and Langley Cowley. (But that doesn't matter.) The story is told from the point of view of Homer, a blind musician, whose brother Langley is obsessed with trying to create a newspaper for the whole world and all of time. You would just need the one newspaper. It would make all newspapers obsolete.

Homer is this gentle soul who takes everyone exactly as they are. He's very intuitive. The two brothers live together all of their lives, excepting a brief period when Langley goes and fights in "The Great War". Throughout their lives the brothers are regulars at speakeasies, they are arrested for holding dances in their home, they have lovers come and go. They are involved with mobsters. The highlight of the book, really, is when their house becomes a hippie house, and Langley is a sort of hippie guru, by default. And Langley hoards things. And tinkers. And takes care of his brother. And slowly, slowly, they retreat from the world, even though they live on Fifth Avenue in Manhatan. They themselves become subjects for the newspapers that Langley hoards. Everything is told through the eyes of Homer, who is blind but incredibly insightful.

I can't quite explain why, but I absolutely loved this book.


  1. Me too! I knew you would like it.

  2. I totally want to read this book! I would love to see a movie about the Collyer Brothers--this account sounds much more interesting than the truth of their existence.

  3. Jen, if you read it, let me know if you like it, too! I don't have a copy of my own, or I'd send it to you.

    Kathleen, thanks for telling me about it.