The Collyer Brothers

doctorowWhat would EL Doctorow, author of Ragtime, The Book of Daniel, and many other great novels have done if electronic books had been invented a century ago?  He wouldn’t have had such a great topic for his latest novel, Homer and Langley, because there wouldn’t have been the great epic iconic story of the Collyer brothers, recluses who — as every baby boomer’s mother told every child — died under an avalanche of books and newspapers.   “Clean up your room, you’re going to end up like the Collyer brothers,” my mother used to tell me regularly:  never mind that this was a woman who’d saved every issue of the New York Times and New Yorker she’d ever received.   I became fascinated by these bibliophile freaks, and now, Doctorow has imagined their story in his new novel.  It’s fascinating, and odd and interesting, just the way I like my books — traditional or otherwise.

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