[Greater-baltimore] Something for the literati

Morman, Ed EMorman at nfb.org
Wed Oct 5 20:00:31 UTC 2011

Dear Colleagues and Fellow Federationists-

This morning the Jacobus tenBroek Library got a phone call from Junerose Killian of Connecticut.  Many of you probably know Junerose.  She is in her eighties and with her sighted husband, Jimmy (who celebrated his ninetieth birthday recently), she's a regular participant at the NFB national conventions.

Junerose and Jimmy are graduates of Cornell University, which this year is asking all entering students to read Homer and Langley, a recent novel by E. L. Doctorow.  Cornell sent Junerose a print copy of the book with a request that she report on what she thought of it.

Here's a brief description of the book, lifted from Publishers Weekly:

Doctorow, whose literary trophy shelf has got to be overflowing by now, delivers a small but sweeping masterpiece about the infamous New York hermits, the Collyer brothers. When WWI hits and the Spanish flu pandemic kills Homer and Langley's parents, Langley, the elder, goes to war, with his Columbia education and his godlike immunity to such an ordinary fate as death in a war. Homer, alone and going blind, faces a world considerably dimmed though more deliciously felt by his other senses. When Langley returns, real darkness descends on the eccentric orphans: inside their shuttered Fifth Avenue mansion, Langley hoards newspaper clippings and starts innumerable science projects, each eventually abandoned, though he continues to imagine them in increasingly bizarre ways, which he then recites to Homer. Occasionally, outsiders wander through the house, exposing it as a living museum of artifacts, Americana, obscurity and simmering madness. Doctorow's achievement is in not undermining the dignity of two brothers who share a lush landscape built on imagination and incapacities. It's a feat of distillation, vision and sympathy.

While Junerose is waiting to get an accessible copy from the Connecticut Library for the Blind, Jimmy has read the one sent by Cornell.  Junerose told me that Jimmy thinks the book is good in some ways as it describes Homer, the blind brother, and not so good in other ways.  Junerose wants to know what other people think.

If you've read the book and have some thoughts on it, please sent them to me and I'll forward them to Junerose.  If you haven't read the book, but would like to, the NLS has it available in Braille, talking book, and downloadable talking book.


Ed Morman

Edward T. Morman, MSLS, PhD

Director, Jacobus tenBroek Library


200 East Wells Street

   at Jernigan Place

Baltimore MD 21230

410.659.9314 x2225

410.685.2340 (fax)

P.S. Did you know it is legal in the United States to pay people with disabilities less than the minimum wage? Let's change this--learn more at http://www.nfb.org/nfb/Fair_Wages_For_Workers_With_Disabilities.asp

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