Saturday, October 10, 2009

Homer and Langley by E. L. Doctorow

I was really looking forward to reading this book. E. L. Doctorow has such a good reputation and I think that the subject of hoarding is interesting so with the two combined it should be a winner, right? No, sadly it isn't quite what I had hoped. I wanted to read a book that delved into the psyche of a hoarder. I wanted to understand why these two well-educated and well-off men would deteriorate into the eccentric and sad men who became known as New York's most famous hoarders. This book just didn't do it for me.
It's not that it was such a terrible book. Doctorow tells the story from Homer's point of view and some of the stories are interesting and he does write in a way that is descriptive and interesting. I just don't feel that he ever got to the meat of the story and the fact that Doctorow took such literary license with the actual facts of the story was distracting. He had Langley as the older brother when he was really 4 years younger. He had Homer be the musician when it was Langley who was. Most egregious though, is that he had them living into the 1970's when they actually died in the 40's. The language in the book wasn't bad, no strong profanity, some violence but not much. There was some drug use with hippies in the 60's but not much. Mostly what bothered me was the sex scenes. They were a little too gratuitous and descriptive for me, just enough to put it into the R rating.

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