Remember when "hoarder" was a word one only heard when talk turned to rodents and wildlife? When a pack rat was the crazy old guy at the end of the block who never threw away his newspaper? Today, hoarders and pack rats are entertainment--and, if some of the items on this list of hoarders on stage and screen, in books and online are any indication, they have been for a long time.
While we wait for TLC's Hoarding: Buried Alive and A&E's Hoarders to kick off new seasons, we can look to pack rats past and present among the following.
Grey Gardens: Doug Wright and Scott Frankel's 2006 musicalization of the lives of the world's most famous hoarder, "Big Edie" Beale and her fractured fashionista daughter, Edith.
My Mother's Garden: A 2007 documentary by filmmaker Cynthia Lester about her mother's inability to throw away a thing.
Grey Gardens: The original 1975 documentary by Albert and David Maysles is the definitive peek into the Beale's life and their horrifically cluttered mansion. Also available: The 2008 sequel, The Beales of Grey Gardens, with even more looks at the interior of this falling-down beauty, and a 2009 HBO telepic based on the documentary starring Drew Barrymore.
Help! I'm a Hoarder! An online series.
Children of Hoarders. Adult children of junk mongers fink on Mom and Dad.
The Pigman by Paul Zindel: In which our teen hero is briefly institutionalized and meets a woman who hoards bath towels and blueberry muffins. First published in 1968; proof that hoarding is nothing new.
Homer and Langley by E. L. Doctorow: The author's latest book, published last year, novelizes the lives of the infamous Collyer brothers, whose decaying bodies were discovered in 1947 among the giant piles in their New York home.
New Non-Fiction Titles
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Overcoming Compulsive Hoarding: Why You Save and How You Can Stop by Fugen Neziroglu
Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things by Randy O. Frost and Gail Steketee
Buried in Treasures: Help for Compulsive Acquiring, Saving, and Hoarding by David F. Tolin, Randy O. Frost, and Gail Steketee
Digging Out: Helping Your Loved One Manage Clutter, Hoarding, and Compulsive Acquiring by Michael A. Tompkins and Tamara L. Hartl