Monday, March 9, 2009

DIRT: The Quirks, Habits, and Passions of Keeping House

Seal Press, Spring 2009 ISBN 1-58005-261-4
Available for pre-order from

This thought-provoking collection of personal essays by 38 contemporary writers offers a multidimensional look at the universal challenge of keeping our stuff, our dwellings, and our personal space clean and uncluttered. How we feel about keeping house speaks volumes about our roots, relationships, and our outlook on life.

Who would guess that revelations about cleaning house would be so intimate and revealing? More constant than love, sex or money, DIRT makes for a compelling and compulsively readable topic.
- Kathy Matthews, author of sixteen books including The Trouble with Perfect and SuperFoods Rx

Drop the broom. Stash the dust rag. Leave the mess on your desk. Read Dirt instead of cleaning house – you'll enjoy the company of wonderful writers who share your own habits, passions and quirks.
- Ellen Sussman, Dirty Words: A Literary Encyclopedia of Sex and Bad Girls: 26 Writers Misbehave

As a former compulsive handwasher, I enjoyed the plethora of intelligent and amusing insights which this gorgeous compilation afforded me.
- Lady Macbeth aka Simon Doonan author of Eccentric Glamour

Essays by Sally Koslow, Joyce Maynard, Lisa Selin Davis, Rebecca Walker, Brian Gerber, Mindy Greenstein, Patty Dann, Kathleen Crisci, Ann Hood, Kyoko Mori, Karen Salyer McElmurray, Markie Robson-Scott, Lisa Solod Warren, Alissa Quart, Sonya Huber, Thaddeus Rutkowski, Teena Apeles, Nancy Stiefel, Mindy Lewis, Rand Richards Cooper, Louise DeSalvo, Mimi Schwartz, Katy Brennan, Mira Bartók, Branka Ruzak, Janice Eidus, Kayla Cagan, Jessica Shines, Julianne Malveaux, Michael Hill, Louise Rafkin, Nancy Peacock, Richard Goodman, Laura Shaine Cunningham, Juliet Eastland, Pamela Paul, Krista Lyons, Rebecca McClanahan;
Foreword by Penelope Green

Post your own DIRT-y stories here or email them to
Publisher's Weekly review 3/9/2009
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. (Apr.)