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"I first read Cleaning Up New York when it was published in the 1970s and I've been recommending it to people ever since. It's one of those great, rare works the style of which--immaculate, with unexpected descriptor glints, and funny, low-key frankness--perfectly embodies its subject, namely the revelation of soft shine in humble corners of New York. it's a miracle and you don't have to be clean to appreciate it.
Cleaning Up New York has been a word-of-mouth cult classic since it was first published in 1976 in an edition of 750.
The East Village, NYC, 1976. A twenty-six-year-old starving poet needs $60. What else to do but register with a temp agency as a house cleaner? The excitement never wanes as he is catapulted into the everyday yet unimaginable worlds behind closed (apartment) doors.
Bob knows one thing: Dirt will always win. Clients are a bit more unpredictable, he discovers, as he comes to terms with eccentric domestic habits and intimate dramas; weird vibes and strange discoveries; appreciation, dependency, dismissal. . . and seduction.
Even if he’s asked to clean up a loft the size of the Strand—and he is, and it’s above the legendary bookstore—he coffees up with a doughnut, fortifies himself with some (pocketed) weed, and sets out anew, with disarming insight, originality, and humor.
With alternate chapters devoted to practical cleaning tips, Cleaning Up New Yorkis a quirky reinvention in the tradition of George Orwell’s Down and Out in Paris andLondon, Studs Terkel’s chronicles of the working class, and Mrs. Beeton’s Book ofHousehold Management—its narrator a spiritual descendant of Candide, Ida Tarbell, and Holden Caulfield.
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