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“I feel my typewriters, my table, my chair to have that assurance of a solid world, where things take up space, where there is not the endless emptiness of insubstantial thought that leads to nowhere but itself.” – page 207


In Doctorow’s story, many characters from outside Homer and Langley’s home pass through their house and lives, including Mary Elizabeth Riordan, Vincent the gangster, the Hoshiyamas, Harold Robileaux, and Lissy the flower child, for example. What do the “outsiders” share with Langley and Homer? How do they connect the brothers with the world and the history around them?

Try this:

Many of the characters in Homer & Langley represent or are associated with major events that occurred in the 20th century. As you read through the book, try searching any of the historical names or terms you encounter in Google or Bing to learn more about these connections.  For instance, do you know who Walter Johnson (p. 13) was?  Who are “New York’s Finest” (p. 75)? How well do you know the historical geography of New York City?  (Woodlawn Cemetery, Columbia College, Hell’s Kitchen, Third Avenue El, and the Hippodrome are all mentioned in the novel.)


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