Book Review: The Trauma Cleaner

Author: Sarah Krasnostein

Review: This is a book that can shift the emphasis from empathy for to empathy with. It makes us question what defines a flawed person and whether there is such a thing? Is the ‘flawed person’ just a banal line used to grab attention and allow for a perpetual state of victimhood? Or is it merely a state of being for every one of us? Sarah Pankhurst is no victim. Her story is about awakenings both for Sarah and those that she touches and works with. It’s about the backwards and forwards journey towards those moments. It’s about the big battles that people face to get through each day and where they find their comfort and safety. As a reader, we’re challenged to an awakening of our own, one of real and unjudging compassion. Sarah opens our mind to what could be any one of us, while encouraging us to question societies progressiveness, or lack thereof.

Pages: 261

Genre: Memoir

Book Blurb: A woman who sleeps among garbage she has not put out for forty years. A man who bled quietly to death in his loungeroom. A woman who lives with rats, random debris and terrified delusion. The still life of a home vacated by accidental overdose.

Before she was a trauma cleaner, Sandra Pankhurst was many things: husband and father, drag queen, sex reassignment patient, sex worker, businesswoman, trophy wife…

But as a little boy, raised in violence and excluded from the family home, she just wanted to belong. Now she believes her clients deserve no less.

Sarah Krasnostein has watched the magnificent Sandra Pankhurst bring order and care to the living and the dead – and the book she has written is remarkable. It is not just the compelling story of a fascinating life; it is an affirmation that, as isolated as we may feel, we are all in this together.

Book Blurb Source: Krasnostein, S., The Trauma Cleaner: One Woman’s Extraordinary Life in Death, Decay & Disaster, Text Publishing, Melbourne, Australia.

Book Review: My Year of Rest and Relaxation

Author: Ottessa Moshfegh

Review: I experienced this book as a slow burner, physically. Frustrated and tense I struggled to find a reason to continue beyond the first half; its bleakness was suffocating. And then I saw something else, a reminder of a line I used only a few months back – “I wish there was something I could take that would make grief go away”. What initially felt like indulgent escapism became a book about re-calibration and – quite literally – a renewal of a mind and body. My appreciation became visceral, the metaphors made sense as life for the protagonist emerged through death. With prose that’s sharp, witty and strangely poignant, I too came out the other side – dare I say – rested and a little more restored.

Pages: 289

Genre: Literary Fiction

Reviewer: Jody

Book Blurb:A shockingly, hilarious and strangely tender novel about a young woman’s experiment in narcotic hibernation, aided and abetted by one of the worst psychiatrists in the annals of literature. Our narrator has many of the advantages of life, on the surface. Young, thin, pretty, a recent Columbia graduate, she lives in a apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan paid for, like everything else, by her inheritance. But there is a vacuum at the heart of things, and it isn’t just the loss of her parents in college, or the way her Wall Street boyfriend treats her, or her sadomasochistic relationship with her alleged best friend. It’s the year 2000 in a city aglitter with wealth and possibility; what could be so terribly wrong?

This story of a year spent under the influence of a truly mad combination of drugs, designed to heal us from our alienation from this world, shows us how reasonable, even necessary, that alienation sometimes is. Blackly funny, both merciless and compassionate – dangling its legs over the ledge of 9/11 – this novel is a showcase for the gifts of one of America’s major young writers working at the height of her powers.

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