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E.L. Doctorow's fiction becomes real -- again -- in Brea

October 22, 2009 |  8:20 am

Collyerbros

E.L. Doctorow's most recent novel, "Homer and Langley," is a fictionalized account of the once-famous Collyer brothers. As a boy, Doctorow saw the headlines when the affluent brothers -- who'd taken pack-rat habits to a hoarding extreme -- were found dead in their rubbish-filled New York apartment.

Something similar happened yesterday in Southern California. Our blog L.A. Now reports:

Police in Brea this morning had to wade through piles of trash, old newspapers and boxes to get to a 59-year-old woman who died in her small apartment from apparent natural causes.

Officers found the body of Kathy Anne Douglas inside the apartment after receiving a call about 10 a.m. from her brother, who said he had found her unconscious, police said.

The officers had to move mounds of rubbish and other items to make a passageway to reach the body. The trash piles were several feet high, police said.

While Doctorow was inspired by the Collyer brothers, he decided to spin his fiction from 50-year-old memories, never returning to research the story. Perhaps this sad local story will similarly lodge in the mind of a young author, to become novelized some decades hence.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: The Collyer brothers' trash-strewn New York apartment, 1947. Credit: Anthony Camerano / Associated Press

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