Wednesday, June 19, 2013

E.L. Doctorow - 'Homer and Langley' - New York Stories

A tale of two brothers

Born into privilege in a stately house in New York's Fifth Avenue district, Homer and Langley are the Collyer Brothers. This novel details how their lives descended from being socially adept to being unacceptable recluses in a world of their own making.

Cover, Homer and Langley, E L Doctorow


How does one become a hoarder? It starts with a purpose that requires the collection of something. The Collyer brothers were more than mere hoarders. They had principles, the kind that liked to fight repression of the individual, especially against City Hall. Money wasn't the issue. Langley, the older brother, fought every grab at squashing their independence. Homer, the musician, trusted in the brother who tried to care for him, and never questioned his ideas.

A blind man, and a gas-damaged war veteran battle against the city of New York. Others came and stayed in their house and their lives for a short time: untrustworthy hired help, male and female, old-style gangsters and opportunists who saw an advantage. When their attempts to fit into society failed, the two brothers withdrew into their own world and collected things they might need.

At one point, near the end, Homer meets French journalist, Jacqueline Roux, a writer for Le Monde. She is trying to 'get' the flavor of America, and tells Homer he is a hero in France. She encourages him to write about the life he and his brother have lived. Amazed but interested, Homer begins to relate what he remembers. It's a fascinating tale.

By the end of the book, the media has manufactured interest in the brothers and the civil fights begin to take on a deadly ominous air. Our narrator, the blind brother, can do little to stop the progress of their slide into destruction.


Historical fiction is something I enjoy. This was the first of Doctorow's work that I read, but I remembered hearing about the story of the Collyer Brothers.  I was highly entertained, even cheering for the brothers in certain spots.

Doctorow imagined this story based on the real life of the Collyer Brothers. For more information on the brothers and the house, see the link below. This article shows a photograph of the Collyer brownstone. The setting needs to be seen so you get the scope of the hoarding.


Edgar Lawrence, or E. L. Doctorow, born in 1931 is an American author, named for 'Edgar' Allan Poe. He writes unique works of historical fiction. He is also the author of Ragtime, written in 1975 and also set in NY city.

A clarification:
Cory (Efram) Doctorow is a Canadian-British blogger, journalist, and science fiction author. Some readers may be more familiar with Cory, but these two writers are similar only in surname and their facility with words.


Do you wonder how many other disabled out there exist like these two brothers? Have you read anything by E.L. Doctorow? Ever been to New York City? Do you read literary authors or stick with genre authors?  (I like both.)

Had you heard of the Collyer Brothers before? Please share in the comments.


References: American Author  Canadian Author and Blogger
NY Times review. - Wiki


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Bear with Two Shadows by Roland Yeomans - A Review

For Hibbs, The Bear with Two Shadows, nothing is as it seems.

The Bear with Two Shadows, R. Yeomans

The Bear with Two Shadows
by Roland Yeomans

In this tale based on Native lore, we meet a young bear who must learn patience, humility, and tolerance. He must learn who to trust. The reader will meet mythical and ethereal creatures and characters in this story who appear in later novels. We watch as Hibbs stumbles at times, but recovers. He learns slowly, but he doesn't forget. His companions might disagree with that, but they give their allegiance to him.

The Turquoise Woman, aka 'Grandmother', Surt, and Little Brother, protect and aid the innocent, but innately powerful bear. His enemies gather on another front, taunting and testing him. Hibbs is tossed from one time period to another, where he must recover through his wits and generous heart. He has a confrontation looming and he doesn't like to kill. Will this be his Waterloo? Will he kill to help his mates? Read to find out how he copes.

If you like stories based on Native American lore and legend, try reading The Bear with Two Shadows. Also available in audio format. These are stories fascinating in their composition of mythology, native lore, and social issues. Don't forget to visit Roland's blog, Writing in the Crosshairs. Check out the right sidebar for samples of his writing and his prolific production of stories that will enchant you. His ordering information can be found there.

Roland Yeomans writes in New Orleans, a city with a history and a dark past that won't let us forget what it's endured. He writes of the stories he remembers and creates his own universe in an old part of the city. His native stories and his paranormal tales include a bit of romance, a lot of suspense, literary referencing, and delightful interludes/snarky comebacks between the characters. Roland also offers some of his titles/stories in audio format and as serials.

BTW - If you haven't sampled his Victor Standish series, you should. Many literary characters drop in at Meilori's, the jazz bar, to see what's happening after dark.


Are you familiar with stories similar to these, based on old legends or lore? Are there stories you remember from your childhood, told in legend or lore form? Have you read any of Roland's books or stories?

I'd love to hear about your own stories or memories. Please share in the comments, and thanks for dropping by.