From The Washington Post:
I had to make a few formal apologies after I read this book. To a dear friend who, on a business trip to New York, rummaged through her carry-on bag and pulled out a 36-inch-long Japanese cucumber. “I brought this along for us just in case,” she said. And to my sainted ex-husband, who some years ago came back from a beach run with a very large, dead fish. “We can have this for dinner,” he said. “I'm sure it died of natural causes.” And to a beloved relative who recently invited everyone over for Thanksgiving dinner. The floor was awash in newspapers, and the dining room table was stacked high with laundry, which we all had to fold before we could get to the business of the turkey. And finally, 200 pages into this amazing book, I remembered my first stepmother, who, in a quandary about what she called a “window treatment,” acquired about 17 couches from thrift shops to possibly go with that “treatment” and then stored them out in the back yard. Being a rebellious teenager at the time, I moved out, but the couches lay there moldering until the lady herself finally sickened and died.
I apologized to all these people, in words and in prayers, as well as to a dozen others I had unwittingly written off as eccentric, or very sloppy, or bad house keepers, or all three. They were (and are) simply compulsive hoarders. It's a medical condition, and it needs to be not just “forgiven” but understood.