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DIRT: The Quirks, Habits, and Passions of Keeping House
Edited by Mindy Lewis
Seal Press | May 2009 | $15.95
ISBN-10: 1-58005-261-4 | ISBN-13: 978-1-58005-261-0

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 who we are, our roots, relationships, and our outlook on life.

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

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

In this interesting collection of personal essays, writers both male and female share their relationship with space, around and inside of them. Written in a variety of tones—humorous, poignant, edgy, revelatory—the authors keep us entertained and engaged from the first essay on.
- Nahid Rachlin, author of Persian Girls and Jumping Over Fire

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


“Inspired in part by “the prime cleaner,” her mother, essayist Lewis (Life Inside: A Memoir) brings…together…an impressive range of opinions and related issues regarding keeping house in the 21st century. It seems significant attention was paid to finding not just a talented collection of writers (also including Louise DeSalvo, Kyoko Mori, Richard Goodman and Louise Rafkin) but a diverse set of perspectives, keeping this collection fresh…”
- Publishers Weekly

“CLEAN DREAMS: Thoreau’s dirty secret? He took his laundry home to Mother. And he’s not the only cleanliness fanatic to appear in DIRT: The Quirks, Habits, and Passions of Keeping House (Seal), an anthology edited by Mindy Lewis, who had an adversarial relationship with her vacuum. “For me,” confesses Katy Brennan, “the California Closets Web site is online porn.” Ann Hood, by contrast, has a fondness for dust bunnies. A tip from Alice Walker to her daughter, Rebecca: In hard times your house “must suggest a sparkling future. Room must be made for your ship to come in.”
—O Magazine

“In Dirt (Seal Press), edited by Mindy Lewis (Life Inside), writers such as Ann Hood, Joyce Maynard, and Louise DeSalvo dish on their relationships with the humble work of vacuuming, closet organizing, bathroom scrubbing, and window washing.”
—“Bookmark These” Elle Magazine

When all the heavy Passover cleaning is just a memory, sit back, put your feet up and enjoy a sparkling collection of essays edited by Mindy Lewis. In “Dirt: The Quirks, Habits and Passions of Keeping House” (Seal Press), writers tell of emptying closets, ironing, cleaning like their mothers, avoiding housework and, literally, waxing poetic. As Lewis, a New Yorker who has lived in the same Upper West Side apartment for more than 35 years, writes in her introduction, “In cleaning (much as in writing) we make sense of our lives, sort our messes, restore order to our psyches, work out our anger and frustration, rediscover the beauty in our lives and express our love for (and resentment toward) others.” The 38 contributors — who “come clean on how they deal with their dirt in their physical, psychological and relational environments” — include Laura Shaine Cunningham, Patty Dann, Richard Goodman, Mindy Greenstein (whose essay is titled “Ba’lebusteh,” Yiddish for housekeeper/housewife), Sally Koslow, Mimi Schwartz and Rebecca Walker, with a foreword by Penelope Green.
- The Jewish Week