Thank you, E.L. Doctorow

4 Oct
Cover of "Homer & Langley: A Novel"

Cover of Homer & Langley: A Novel

For this poignant quote:

“Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.”

And we all know it to be true.

Characters invade our brains, our lives, our dreams and unveil themselves to us through writing. Their voice, their mannerisms, their attitudes may come from an author’s observations of others or of themselves, but in the end a fictional character comes alive thanks to an author’s ability to create an alternate reality in which each character lives and breathes.

Here’s a fun exercise to help yank on your latent writing-induced schizophrenia:

Describe, in every detail, your character’s kitchen sink. Are there dirty dishes? Is it pristine? What food do you find on the counter or gunked up in the drain? Take a look around. What type of stove, if any, do they use to cook? Are there windows over the sink? What is their view while washing dishes…or while avoiding doing them? Can you tell who cooks in their kitchen – the mother, the father, the children, the room mate? 

I reference the kitchen sink and its organization because this post was inspired by an article about E.L. Doctorow‘s novel, ‘Homer & Langley’, which follows the lives of 2 brothers who happen to be hoarders. The novel was based on the true story of the Collyer brothers who lived in early 20th century Harlem in a lavish Victorian- style mansion. The two died and were discovered years later in their home having died in their own mess. Very tragic story, but one that I’m sure had E.L. Doctorow feeling a bit schizophrenic trying to imagine the cramped world these two characters created for themselves. The mess in the kitchen sink was the least of their worries!



One Response to “Thank you, E.L. Doctorow”


  1. Ragtime. E.L. Doctorow | leyendoahora - November 27, 2011

    […] Thank you, E.L. Doctorow ( Rate this: ComparteFacebookTwitterCorreo electrónicoImprimirLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. Esta entrada fue publicada en Novela Estadounidense y etiquetada Emma Goldman, Henry Ford, Houdini, Ragtime, United States. Guarda el enlace permanente. ← Seda Roja […]

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