From the Publisher
“Inspired in part by “the prime cleaner,” her mother, essayist Lewis (Life Inside: A Memoir) brings
an impressive range of opinions and related issues regarding keeping house in the 21st century. It seems significant attention was paid to finding not just a talented collection of writers (also including Louise DeSalvo, Kyoko Mori, Richard Goodman and Louise Rafkin) but a diverse set of perspectives, keeping this collection fresh…”
“CLEAN DREAMS: Thoreau’s dirty secret? He took his laundry home to Mother. And he’s not the only cleanliness fanatic to appear in DIRT: The Quirks, Habits, and Passions of Keeping House (Seal), an anthology edited by Mindy Lewis, who had an adversarial relationship with her vacuum. “For me,” confesses Katy Brennan, “the California Closets Web site is online porn.” Ann Hood, by contrast, has a fondness for dust bunnies. A tip from Alice Walker to her daughter, Rebecca: In hard times your house “must suggest a sparkling future. Room must be made for your ship to come in.”
“In Dirt (Seal Press), edited by Mindy Lewis (Life Inside), writers such as Ann Hood, Joyce Maynard, and Louise DeSalvo dish on their relationships with the humble work of vacuuming, closet organizing, bathroom scrubbing, and window washing.”
—“Bookmark These” Elle Magazine
“When all the heavy Passover cleaning is just a memory, sit back, put your feet up and enjoy a sparkling collection of essays edited by Mindy Lewis. In Dirt: The Quirks, Habits and Passions of Keeping House (Seal Press), writers tell of emptying closets, ironing, cleaning like their mothers, avoiding housework and, literally, waxing poetic. As Lewis
writes in her introduction, “In cleaning (much as in writing) we make sense of our lives, sort our messes, restore order to our psyches, work out our anger and frustration, rediscover the beauty in our lives and express our love for (and resentment toward) others.” The 38 contributors who “come clean on how they deal with their dirt in their physical, psychological and relational environments” include Laura Shaine Cunningham, Patty Dann, Richard Goodman,
Sally Koslow, Mimi Schwartz and Rebecca Walker, with a foreword by Penelope Green.”
—The Jewish Week
Inspired in part by "the prime cleaner," her mother, essayist Lewis (Life Inside: A Memoir) brings Malveaux together with an impressive range of opinions and related issues regarding keeping house in the 21st century. In "Cleaning Ambivalence," Julianne Malveaux calls keeping house "a dreaded chore for some, a cheerful obsession for others, and a fact of life for most of us." Other standouts include Joyce Maynard, who traces the correlation between housekeeping arguments and the dissolution of her marriage; and Rebecca Walker, who imagines the efforts her grandparents, sharecroppers who "could be evicted without as much as a week's notice," put into creating a stable environment: "They must have grasped at whatever rituals they could...keeping clothes and linens sparkling clean and freshly ironed, displaying fresh fruit... to ease a pervasive feeling of powerlessness." It seems significant attention was paid to finding not just a talented collection of writers (also including Louise DeSalvo, Kyoko Morri, Richard Goodman and Louise Rafkin) but a diverse set of perspectives, keeping this collection fresh despite narrow subject matter.
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In this anthology of 38 pieces, by writers ranging from Rebecca Walker to Ann Hood to Joyce Maynard, essayist Lewis (Life Inside: A Memoir) turns her attention to housekeeping. Dirt in our homes and the process of cleaning it up is a universal task that all of us can appreciate. But while some of us enjoy housekeeping and excel at it, others abhor it and ignore it as long as possible. The contributors discuss their cleaning experiences and how those experiences have shaped them; clutter, neatness, obsessive-compulsive behaviors, hoarding, and dust bunnies are all covered here. This book certainly differs from the usual how-to manuals. Indeed, even though it offers no direct help with cleaning, its heartening prose could encourage even dedicated slobs to raise their standards. It is effectively a cumulative story about our lives and a great read to pick up now and then: the short entries and interesting points of view make this a pleasing and accessible volume.
Holly S. Hebert