“The East Village, NYC, 1976. A 26-year-old starving poet needs $60. What else to do but register with a temp agency as a house cleaner? After his references check out–the poet Ron Padgett vouched that the author “always brushed his teeth”– he is hired. The phone rings, the agency’s command is like a backstage knock, ‘Are you ready?’ The suspense never wanes as he is catapulted into the everyday yet unimaginable worlds behind closed (apartment) doors. Bob knows one thing: The dirt will always win. That’s what keeps him in business. Clients are a bit more unpredictable, he discovers, as he comes to terms with eccentric domestic habits and intimate dramas; weird vibes and even stranger discoveries; appreciation, dependency, dismissal…and seduction. When our hero becomes a weekly fixture in his clients’ lives, anything can happen, and does, including a memorable encounter with an obliging Hoover that ultimately proves unable to get the job done. Along the way, he discovers that cleaning itself has its own allure and secrets, to which he devotes alternate chapters (what to wear, favorite products, how dust behaves, as well as the metaphysical nitty gritty of physical labor). 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 donut, fortifies himself with some (pocketed) weed, and sets out to mop and wax his way through, not without disarming insight, originality, and humor”–
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