Friday Morning Bookclub

September 13, 2009

September’s Meeting

Filed under: Homer & Langley,People of the Book — susanbright @ 5:04 pm

September’s meeting was a great success. It was  nice to get everyone together again after our short summer break. We had a wonderful turnout and an informative discussion on both Homer & Langley and People of the Book.   Everyone seemed to really enjoy both books and we found a lot to talk about. Over coffee, bagels and oatmeal, we put together an interesting list of discussion questions  for Homer & Langley, to be submitted to Random House. The questions will be submitted late Monday, so if you have any suggestions please let me know ASAP!  Also, don’t forget to “Rate The Book” below so we can update our book list. It is a great resource for our readers.

Homer & Langley Discussion Questions

1. How different would the life of the Collyer brothers have been if Homer, the sensible one had retained his vision.  Would Homer have become the caretaker?

 2. On page 74 you will find the passage: “Langley. I  said. Am I your shadow? In the darkness I listened. You’re my brother, he said ”.  In actuality, who was who’s shadow, and what does it say about their relationship?

 3. Homer had several occasions to develop a relationship with a woman. Langley even commented about his brother’s affinity for the ladies. Why did Homer choose to remain single and live with his brother?

 4. Did the brothers actually love each other?

 5. Was it a misguided sacrifice that Homer gave up his life for his brother? How responsible is one for their siblings?

 6. If the Collyer’s parents had not died how would their lives have been different ?

 7. What part did the park play in the brother’s lives?

 8. In what ways does the concept of “crossing boundaries” or “opposites” present itself as a recurrent theme?

 9. Was Langley a genius? Are we really all replacements?

 10. Was Jacqueline Roux real? If so, did she ever return after their first meeting when she “saved” Homer’s life?

 11. As is often the case in historical fiction, the author has taken liberties with known facts about the Collyer brothers lives, notably their birth order (in reality, Homer was the elder brother), the timing of their parents death (the sons were in their 30’s and 40’s), the circumstances surrounding Homer’s blindness (it occurred as the result of a stroke he suffered in adulthood), and Homer’s musical skills (Langley was the musician). Why do you think E.L. Doctorow made these changes, and how does it affect the dynamics between the two brothers?

 12.The story of the Collyer brothers was reminiscent of the movie Grey Gardens, the story of Edith Bouvier Beale and her mother (Cousin and Aunt of Jackie Bouvier Kennedy Onassis). They too were recluses, lived in squalor and were isolated from the world. Do life circumstances which cause bitterness and despair justify the eccentric actions of the characters?

 13. Do you think Homer has options when Langley returns and the household is basically intact and financially secure? At what different junctures could Homer have chosen a different path?

 14.  Why would Homer who was portrayed as educated and artistic, intuitive, understanding, and really “seeing of the world” have gone along with Langley’s theories and world views?

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