From The Little Bookroom
Cleaning Up New YorkThe `70s Cult Classic
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? The excitement 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. Clients are a bit more unpredictable, he discovers, as he comes to terms with eccentric domestic habits and strange discoveries. When Bob 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.
Cleaning Up New York has been a cult classic since it was first published in 1976 in an edition of 750.
I first read Cleaning Up New York when it was published in the 1970s and I’ve been recommending it to people ever since. It’s one of those great, rare works the style of which—immaculate, with unexpected descriptor glints, and funny, low-key frankness—perfectly embodies its subject, namely the revelation of soft shine in humble corners of New York. It’s a miracle and you don’t have to be clean to appreciate it.
Bob Rosenthal’s Cleaning Up New York is a perfect little gem of a book. There is not one wasted or misplaced word in this chronicle, which manages to contain an awful lot of the world in its few pages. It’s not only about the city and its range of denizens, but also about the art of living, the satisfaction of humble work, the way poetry arises from daily experience. and if that weren’t enough, it also includes really useful advice about cleaning!