The Trauma Cleaner
October 3, 2019 6:10 PM - by Sarah Krasnostein - Subscribe

Winner of the Victorian Prize for Literature, Sarah Krasnostein’s The Trauma Cleaner: One Woman’s Extraordinary Life in the Business of Death, Decay, and Disaster is the fascinating biography of one of the people responsible for tidying up homes in the wake of natural—and unnatural—catastrophes and fatalities. Homicides and suicides, fires and floods, hoarders and addicts. When properties are damaged or neglected, it falls to Sandra Pankhurst, founder of Specialized Trauma Cleaning (STC)...

Previously: One of the most arresting works of biography you'll read in a long time. Krasnostein’s telling of Sandra Pankhurst's stories is a compelling act of imaginative empathy. Fair warning: Even though a title like "The Trauma Cleaner" is a heads-up, the book contains scenes of abuse, rape, neglect, and violence; they're narrated compassionately and graphically. Reading it in public kept my tears from falling, but barely.
posted by MonkeyToes (3 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
My favorite passage: "One of Sandra’s talents is that she is superb at—I won’t call it small talk because, though that too is true, it is the form rather than the function—she is superb at instantly conveying a bespoke blend of respect, warmth, humour and interest that establishes a basic human equity and makes nearly everyone comfortable enough to immediately return the favour. This gesture is the opposite of the shaming to which she has been subjected consistently throughout her life, and it is lovely to witness its salutary effect on the whole spectrum of humanity."
posted by MonkeyToes at 6:13 PM on October 3, 2019 [2 favorites]

I LOVE THIS BOOK. Just such a fascinating life story of someone who lived far more lives than most of us have, with wildly different relationships, career paths, challenges, triumphs....just everything. Also, the respect and tenderness that Sandra gives to her clients is amazing...whether they need cleaning services for their own situations or situations that have been thrust upon them, she just gives it her all. I can't recommend this book highly enough.
posted by xingcat at 7:53 AM on October 4, 2019 [1 favorite]

Ooh, this is what the newest episode of Criminal is about! I loved the podcast, I wonder if I could handle the book.
posted by arcticwoman at 9:29 PM on October 16, 2019

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