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