Tuesday, August 18, 2009
The author is E. L. Doctorow and the book I was talking about is his newest novel, “Homer & Langley.”
Before I go further, let me just say a couple of things. I like Doctorow. I mean, I really like him. I was introduced to writing fiction in high school by being told to read “World’s Fair” and learn to write emulating him. “Billy Bathgate” was incredible. Doctorow easily has more awards for his writing than I have years in my life. I would love the chance to meet him one day. But, while immaculately written, “Homer & Langley” was not my favorite Doctorow novel. Why?
“Homer & Langley” is a fictional biography of the infamous New York City Collyer brothers who, while living in a mansion on Fifth Avenue, became the poster boys for pack-rats worldwide. They were born in the 1880‘s and died in 1947. Doctorow changed their timeline, moving them forward into the twentieth century so they could experience all the great events from World War I to the Vietnam War and the moon landing. While an interesting story to have two recluses experience the major events and watersheds of twentieth century United States from inside their mansion, the story also seemed a little contrived, kind of like Forrest Gump becoming inadvertently involved in most of the major political and cultural events of his lifetime.
While excellently written (Doctorow is incapable of writing a poor sentence), the story itself did not envelop me, pull me along and make me want to turn the page before I had finished reading the one I was on. The best episode of the entire story, where Homer and Langley are forced to house a wounded gangster, falls in the middle of the book.
If you are a Doctorow fan, “Homer & Langley” is a book worth reading, but I don’t expect this new novel to win new fans for this traditionally amazing author.
"Homer & Langley" by E. L. Doctorow, available September 1, 2009, is available for purchase by coming into the Bookmark at the U or by ordering from our online partner, Powell's.
Friday, August 14, 2009
"Last Night in Montreal" by Emily St. John Mandel is available at the Bookmark at the U and at our online fulfillment partner, Powell's Books, and wherever great books are sold.
Monday, August 3, 2009
The Meaning of Night is a fabulously written, historical mystery set in Victorian England, infused with life by a cadre of characters that inhabit its pages. The protagonist, Edward Glyver, a man undone by an event from his early childhood, feels the only way to reacquire what is rightfully his is to exact revenge on the man he blames for everything gone wrong in his life- Phoebus Daunt. But, what seems to be a straight-forward story of retribution and revenge takes turns both dark and twisted, ultimately revealing an outcome that leaves the reader surprised and satisfied in a morbidly curious way.
This is one of my top ten all time reads, and a must for mystery lovers.