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Debra Hamel is the mother of two preternaturally attractive girls and the author of a number of books about ancient Greece. She writes and blogs from her subterranean lair in North Haven, CT. Read more.


Books by Debra Hamel:

THE BATTLE OF ARGINUSAE :
VICTORY AT SEA AND ITS TRAGIC AFTERMATH IN THE FINAL YEARS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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KILLING ERATOSTHENES:
A TRUE CRIME STORY
FROM ANCIENT ATHENS
By Debra Hamel


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READING HERODOTUS:
A GUIDED TOUR THROUGH THE WILD BOARS, DANCING SUITORS, AND CRAZY TYRANTS OF THE HISTORY
By Debra Hamel


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paperback | hardcover (UK)

THE MUTILATION OF THE HERMS:
UNPACKING AN ANCIENT MYSTERY
By Debra Hamel


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TRYING NEAIRA:
THE TRUE STORY OF A COURTESAN'S SCANDALOUS LIFE IN ANCIENT GREECE
By Debra Hamel


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paperback | hardcover (UK)

SOCRATES AT WAR:
THE MILITARY HEROICS OF AN ICONIC INTELLECTUAL
By Debra Hamel


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ANCIENT GREEKS IN DRAG:
THE LIBERATION OF THEBES AND OTHER ACTS OF HEROIC TRANSVESTISM
By Debra Hamel


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IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY TWEET:
FIVE HUNDRED 1ST LINES IN 140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
By Debra Hamel


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PRISONERS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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Doctorow, E.L.: Homer & Langley

  Amazon  

3.5 stars

Homer & Langley is a fictionalized account of the lives of the Collyer brothers, hoarders who were found dead in their Fifth Avenue home in 1947. One brother had been crushed under their toppled posessions, his body being eaten by rats when it was discovered. The other brother, Homer, who was blind and paralyzed, starved to death after Langley died. Doctorow has changed the story up some. His Homer seems to go blind at an earlier age than the historical brother. And the fictional Collyers live at least into the 1960s. But the author has woven many real-life details into the story as well.

The book is chapterless, the prose uncomplicated. It purports to be an account written in the first person by Homer, who details the adventures the brothers had during their decades of cohabitation: the parties, early on; the attentions of a piano student; outings with gangsters and hippies. At the same time there is a more important development, Langley's hoarding, his descent into paranoia, the brothers' growing isolation from society. The book succeeds in providing Homer with an inner life. We are made to understand the increasingly desperate situation as it might have been experienced by him. The shocking development from gregarious members of society to cloistered madmen makes sense.

Unfortunately, though the story is one I'm happy to have read, Homer & Langley dragged for me. Rarely could I muster the energy to read more than twenty pages at a time, so that the book seemed to stretch out endlessly before me, even when I was nearing the end. A mixed bag, then, at least for me. But other readers may find the book a more exciting read.

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