Homer, Langley, and a Half-Broke Horse


There are a couple of books that I’ve recently finished which are listed below with my brief review attached.  They are all newer titles that currently sit on or very near the latest best seller lists. Friends will often ask me if I have read a particular title, or for the suggestion of a solid personal or book club read. Because it takes a lot of time and thought to do a detailed review of each book, I am posting these “quickies” for your reference and perusal.

Homer & Langley by E.L. Doctorow

As I’ve mentioned before, I rarely buy books. A hardcover purchase takes much plotting and thought before I’ll take the plunge. With one of my criterion being “passability”, imagine my pleasure in the pay off of Homer & Langley. I don’t know who to give it to first. How can a book about pathological hoarding hold such beauty within its pages?

Doctorow’s prose is breathtaking as he evokes the pathos of brothers Homer and Langley Collyer. Lending dialogue as voice to the reclusive brothers, Doctorow allows you to take up literary residence in Collyer’s Fifth Avenue mansion to witness the bizarre decline of a once prominent family. This freakish, true story of the brothers is told with  a compassion and grace that allows the reader to perhaps comprehend the incomprehensible.

*A beautiful book. I feel this is one of those books that raises the bar for a reader. The vocabulary and language is wonderful and will probably throw a few “unknowns” onto your list (I hit the dictionary a number of times). As a book club choice, you will have plenty to discuss even after you get past the clutter. Instead of getting too caught up in the physical story, focus on the sensuous writing instead.

Half Broke Horses: A True-Life Novel by Jeannette Walls

*Enjoy my full review on Bookbrowse.

Following her bestseller The Glass Castle, Jeannette Walls brings us more eccentric family lore. Calling it a “true-life novel”, Walls admits that even with her considerable research and cross-referencing, the dialogue left her uncomfortable claiming it as a memoir. Taking small liberties with the voice of grandmother Lily Casey Smith, Walls spins the true-life tale of her grandmother, and her incredible ranching days of the Old West. Though I had my doubts that Walls could pull off a second bestseller, I suspect she might have another one on her hands with Half Broke Horses. I absolutely loved this book for its laugh-out-loud common sense and personality.

*This book is really fun. From a literary standpoint it won’t change your life, however, the western voice is tough and engaging. This is an entertaining read for yourself or as a book club, and reading The Glass Castle isn’t necessary for its enjoyment or understanding.