I Was a Vacuum Cleaner Salesman

( 3 )


What if you really could make as little or as much money as you wanted to?

Seeking her fortune, or at least her funding for next year’s college tuition, Diana Jensen sets out on an odyssey of sales calls giving in-home demonstrations of “the amazing StormBurst” home cleaning device.

A host of comic characters keeps this quirky salesman on her toes as she vies for the hearts...

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What if you really could make as little or as much money as you wanted to?

Seeking her fortune, or at least her funding for next year’s college tuition, Diana Jensen sets out on an odyssey of sales calls giving in-home demonstrations of “the amazing StormBurst” home cleaning device.

A host of comic characters keeps this quirky salesman on her toes as she vies for the hearts and credit cards of anyone willing to watch her demonstration. As her epic adventure unfolds, Diana discovers that she may have stumbled onto the most lucrative career opportunity she’d ever thought possible.


Editor’s Choice Award

Before publication, the manuscript for I Was a Vacuum Cleaner Salesman underwent a thorough review by the editorial staff at iUniverse Publishing.  Based on technical execution and quality of content, the novel was distinguished as an “Editor’s Choice” title, scoring among the highest-rated manuscripts since the program’s inception.

The Basics - “The opening paragraphs, and every paragraph from that point on, are filled with tight, clever writing...”

Setting - “The author paints some wonderful word pictures for her readers, and shows a penchant for making her scenes and characters seem real. These are people and places the reader has seen, too...even though some of these characters come across like escapees from some rogue copy of Alice in Wonderland...”

Characters - “Each person in this bizarre cast of characters is given the full treatment by the author, who takes the time to flesh them out, giving them foibles and frailties in order to help them live and breathe in the reader’s mind...

“The author does a wonderful job of creating compassion and empathy in her readers, and that makes this book a pleasure to read, from start to finish.”

Pace - “There are enough situations in this book to keep the reader turning pages, if for no other reason than to see what kind of wacko will schedule the next demonstration. It’s a witty romp through a little-known world, lovingly told and skillfully executed.”

Dialogue - “Like everything else in this fine manuscript, the author shows a flare for writing believable, conversational dialogue, including showing a penchant for believable dialects.

“Her characters speak like real people, and act like real people involved in real situations—as bizarre as those situations may sometimes be.

“The dialogue helps keep the reader ‘in the moment,’ making him a part of each scene... It’s not easy, but it is absolutely necessary if a writer is to create powerful prose—and the author carries it off with style and aplomb.”

Structure - “The witty tone of the book is set from the very first, and maintained beautifully throughout the manuscript. There are plenty of complications along the way, each one helping the reader identify with the protagonist a little more deeply.

“The ending of the story is also wonderful, and the reader finds himself laughing along with Diana and [name omitted], right up to the point when he notices a tear beginning to trickle down his cheek. That’s good writing, and the author is to be congratulated.”

Plot - “Every incident in the book is carefully woven into the overall tapestry of the plot, until the excellent series of events that finally bring the book to a satisfying conclusion.”

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Editorial Reviews

The Oakland Tribune
Rivoli's Diana is an appealing reminder that hard work pays off....
The Sacramento Bee
One for the book club.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780595279500
  • Publisher: iUniverse, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 6/18/2003
  • Pages: 195
  • Product dimensions: 6.48 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.52 (d)

Reading Group Guide

1. When do you think Diana was first "sold" on the StormBurst machine? Do you think it made any difference to her what she would be demonstrating? Did the language used in the advertisement and at her interview influence her decision?
2. How would you describe Diana's relationship with Brenda Sue Chin? Does this relationship change over the course of the novel?
3. How does Diana feel about her new "career" in sales-and how are her feelings influenced by: a) her family, b) her coworkers, and c) her community?
4. To what extent does Diana manipulate-and serve her customers? Does she ever actually "help solve a customer's problems"? Does she ever cross the line? How does Charlie fit into this equation?
5. What special challenges does Diana face as a vacuum cleaner saleswoman?
Is she able to overcome these challenges? Why do you think there aren't more women working for Chin's StormBurst Center?
6. What is the secret of Diana's success? Would it have worked on you? Would it have worked for you?
7. Why do you think Diana begins to fail?
8. What is the significance of the cat to this story? And to Diana? And what, if anything, does Diana learn from him?
9. To what extent is this an American story? Could this have happened in another country? Are students faced with similar challenges-and opportunities elsewhere in the world? Are direct sales organizations (like Amway, Avon, Mary Kay, Tupperware, etc.) so common in other cultures? Why are they so prevalent in the United States?
10. Why does Diana choose not to "invest" in Soap King? Might she have decided differently at the beginning of the book?
11. In what ways is StormBurst International similar to a religious organization? Do these similarities exist in other businesses? Does Diana recognize these similarities on a conscious or a subconscious level? What do her own actions and expressions reveal about her religious experience and spirituality?
12. Project five years into the future. Will Diana have finished her degree?
What kind of a job will she have? How will she look back on her summer as a vacuum cleaner salesman?
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 3 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 10, 2004

    Not long enough!

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Anyone who has ever tried to sell ANYTHING (or had anyone show up at their door selling something) will certainly appreciate this one! I used to sell a certain brand of cleaning products.... you know the ones...and I almost cried laughing when she visited the couple with the laundry soap! But not to give too much away... you've got to read it for yourself. I only wish it had been longer, but the author doesn't seem to waste a page or paragraph.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 5, 2003

    Fun story, good writing.

    This book reads like just plain fun, and you can hardly imagine there's much of a point as you read about one crazy sales situation after another. Amazingly, you don't care--as the other reviewer wrote, it's completely engrossing, very much a one-sitting read if you can indulge yourself that way (I did!). Hilarious! Finally though, at the end you realize that the main character really has changed, in some small but important ways, but you haven't been told that--it just happens to her, and the reader understands perfectly without realizing it until the end.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 27, 2003

    Sucks you in!

    I had so much fun reading this book that I started limiting myself to one chapter a day just to make it last. The characters were hilarious and I couldn't wait to see how Diana would handle each one of them. I think this would make a great gift book, especially for anyone who could use a good laugh or some cheering up.

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