Matt Bell’s The Collectors might really be the most disturbing, but beautiful example of cross-genre literature I have ever had the pleasure of reading. Short yet epic, disturbing yet beautiful, and absolutely haunting to the core – this is truly the stuff of nightmares and, most assuredly, a diamond in the rough.
The tale of compulsive hoarders Homer and Langly Collyer so shocked 1940s Manhattan that the brothers and their Harlem brownstone live on today as one of the most notable American case studies of acute disposophobia. With nervous energy and obsession to match his protagonists, Matt Bell’s prose burrows, forensically, into the layers of the brother’s lives, employing a multilinear narrative structure and a prenetic plurality of perspectives to reach a core of despair that is both terrifyingly primal and distressingly familiar.
First off, I have to that the incredible Judy Black for pointing me in the direction of this little story. It’s an incredible piece, and more incredible is the fact that you can catch it for free. In all honesty, this is an absolute crime, as I would pay good money for a story this impressive and satifying.
Bell’s prose is immaculately crafted, leaving the reader completely in awe and unable to tear him/herself away from the story. The words slide off the page beautifully, but leave a film on the brain that just reeks of desperation and sorrow. It’s virtually impossible not to feel something deep down inside while reading this. This, in my opinion, is a work of art. A masterpiece.
The two main characters in this story – brothers Homer and Langly Collyer – were compulsive hoarders who lived in Manhattan until 1947 – when their bodies were found in the Harlem brownstone where they lived as hermits. This part of the story is true. With Bell’s help, we are given a unique and harrowing fictional account of their last days in that brownstone, and the reaction of the community upon their demise. The truth of the story is just as terrifying as Bell’s interpretation, but it is this author’s ability to string together so perfectly that really steals the show. Bell adds layer upon layer to a story that is already twisted and disturbing, thus giving it more of a dark fairy tale feeling than normal historical fiction.
The overall result here is astounding. Bell has really created an incredibly unsettling, vibrant, disturbing, and beautifully haunting piece of fiction.
Grab yourself a free copy at Matt Bell’s website here, or a direct download here. Also, check out his collection – How The Were Found, available at Amazon, B&N, Amazon Kindle, and other online retailers.