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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 York is 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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