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Other People's Dirt: A Housecleaner's Curious Adventures [Audiobook] [Audio Cassette]

Louise Rafkin
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Audio Cassette
  • Publisher: Listen & Live Audio; Unabridged edition (May 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1885408234
  • ISBN-13: 978-1885408235
  • Product Dimensions: 17.7 x 10.6 x 1.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)

More About the Author

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Product Description


The author offers an intimate, quirky tour of her clients' lives through the evidence of their habitats and relates the offbeat stories of other cleaners to the rich, famous, and strange. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Publisher

About the Author
Louise Rafkin earned her B.A. in English from Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon, and her M.A. in Comparative Literature from the University of California, Santa Cruz, in 1981. When she is not cleaning houses all over the world or practicing martial arts, Louise Rafkin is writing--fiction, non-fiction, essays, and reviews. She has contributed to numerous magazines, including: "Ladies' Home Journal," "New York Times Magazine," "Boston Phoenix," and "OUT." Her work has appeared in many other publications, including: "The Bay Guardian," "Poets & Writers," "Women's Review of Books," and "Whole Earth Review."

Rafkin has published several books, some of which include: "Different Mothers" (Cleis Press, 1990), "Street Smarts: A Woman's Guide to Personal Safety" (Harper SF, 1995), "The Tiger's Eye, The Bird's Fist: A Beginner's Guide to the Martial Arts" (! Little, Brown, 1997), and "What Do Dogs Dream?" (Andrews and Mcmeel, 1998).

In the past several years, Louise Rafkin has received plenty of awards and recognition for her writing. She has won the San Francisco Cable Car Award for Best Local Writing in 1989, first place in the San Francisco "Bay Guardian"'s fiction competition in 1989, and a Lambda Literary Award in 1991. She has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Zimtbaum Foundation Fine Arts Work Center, the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, and a grant from the Ludwig/Vogelstein Foundation.

Rafkin and her partner Susie live in Berkeley, California. "Other People's Dirt" is her first book with Algonquin. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting topic; tiresome attitude 21 May 1998
By A Customer
Although the notion of life as seen by a housecleaner is interesting--how much do our homes reveal about our "secrets"?--and the style is mildly entertaining, the chip on the author's shoulder detracts from the book. An example--she freely admits that she "overcharges" a lot of clients for various services, but then counsels those who use housecleaners to leave little uplifting notes like "you're amazing!" She wants top pay *and* ego-stroking for doing her job? Nice work if you can get it.
In one nearly repellant episode, while cleaning for a commercial service she considers exploitive, she notices that the home's owner has many books on his shelves about the exploitation of labor. Interrupting him as he works, she waves one of the titles at him and expects him to join her in a discussion of the plight of certain workers, especially those in the cleaning business. The poor man is, understandably, less than enthused at this prospect....he was hoping for clean floors; instead he's being harangued about social issues by some woman he's never seen before, one who's being paid to dust the books, not wave them at him.
The book is breezy and mildly entertaining, but the author's attitude is tiresome, and her manners are appalling (inviting your boyfriend over to make use of a client's bed when no one is home, and then charging someone for the privilege?). It's enough to make you scrub your own bathroom.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars absolutely funny! 25 May 1999
By A Customer
I could hardly put it down. I think the scathing reviews in here can only be those of women or men who have never cleaned homes for a living. Lighten up folks...sheesh!! This was one of the funniest books I've ever read. Though I may not agree with Louise politically, her humor and humanity are wonderful. I have cleaned homes for 5 years. It isn't a "hobby" as some clients would like to think. This made for a delightful evening of laffs. Hey, Louise, when's the video coming? KUDOS, susie melkus
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1.0 out of 5 stars Don't waste your money! 11 Feb 1999
By A Customer
Often, while reading a book, I think how I'd like to meet the author and learn more. Not this time. I would not walk across the street to meet the spiteful, smug, self-serving woman who wrote this book. She gives a bad name to housecleaners everywhere by proudly telling how she pilfers small items from various homes, makes fun of her clients' belongings, and reads personal papers. She lauds a colleague who throws away clients' photos which she deems offensive, she runs down all cleaning services based on her two-day experience with one, then criticizes people whose houses are too clean...or too dirty...or too large...or too small. She takes baths in clients' tubs, reads People magazine with the door closed and the vacuum running, and clearly breaks any kind of professional confidentiality, all the while proclaiming her superiority and cleverness and, of course, collecting money from the poor saps who hired her. I've always believed that money spent on books could not be wasted because all information is good - whether or not the reader agree with it. I've changed my mind. This book is a waste, and I feel very foolish for buying it and putting money in the author's pocket. I thought it would make me laugh, but it made me angry instead; if I could give it 0 stars, I would. Don't waste your money.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Not for Everyone 26 Aug 1998
By A Customer
Okay, so Rafkin's book is not for everyone. What's new? My recommendation is to read the first chapter before you buy this book. I did, and I was hooked immediately. Every chapter was a surprise after that as Rafkin shows how she makes a living doing the work she loves -- work that obviously other people find disgusting, boring, painstaking, or just too lower class. The joy is that Rafkin does love her work and, yes, finds most things in life ironic, even 'other people's dirt.' As she discovers, you can learn everything you want to know about a person just by looking at what reading material they put out, what they put in their refrigerators, and what they store in their medicine cabinet. Do tell. Surprises abound, and if Rafkin occasionally appears condescending, maybe it has something to do with the way she is treated by her customers, who deserve to be scaled for their haughty attitudes. The last chapter, which takes place in Japan where housecleaning and Zen join hands, is humbling, honest, and original. I imagine the same people who find Rafkin's take on housecleaning to be repulsive are the same people who think retarded people should be locked indoors and out of sight. But that's another book....
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By A Customer
I thought that Ms. Rafkin's book didn't carry any particularly deep messages -- just some amusing stories about former clients, some despised, some not -- and some "Miss Manners"-like instructions on how to behave as an employer of a cleaning professional should one find oneself in that situation. However, shortly after reading the book my toddler came down with a serious virus, and I discovered that, as I stayed up with him several nights in a row, cleaning suddenly had a remarkably calming and theraputic effect. I think Ms. Rafkin's book was more moving and persuasive than I had realized as I read it the first time. This book is particularly recommended for those people, such as myself, who look only to the results of cleaning rather than the process as the reason for doing it.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars You bring yourself to this book.
It is interesting to read the other reviews of this book. It seems to provoke some EXTREMELY strong reactions, which I didn't think it merited. Read more
Published on 29 Jun 1999
1.0 out of 5 stars An unfortunate book
Louise Rafkin seems to find nearly everyone except herself below contempt, whether it's a client or a sibling. Read more
Published on 2 Jun 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars Witty, funny, clever
Ms. Rafkin is a very smart and funny writer. Who else could take the tedious job of house cleaning and turn it in to such an amusing tale. Read more
Published on 18 Mar 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars this book is satire at its best
I loved the dry wit Ms. Rafkin brings to our dirty laundry. I've always wondered what house cleaners must think about when they are mopping up other people's mess, and now here it... Read more
Published on 18 Mar 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars A wry, whimsical look at the housecleaner's life
This book made me laugh out loud more than once. Ms. Rafkin has a mordant sense of humor but she's also getting at sticky issues of class. Read more
Published on 18 Mar 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars Provocative, funny prose with a lot of edge
This book holds very little back, which is just what I like about it. In exactly the same way everyone knows that women grow facial hair but choose not to talk about it, there is... Read more
Published on 17 Mar 1999
1.0 out of 5 stars Terrible. Just TERRIBLE!
Just when I was warming to the idea of hiring someone to clean the house, I read this book and it FLAT made up my mind to never, EVER do such a thing! Read more
Published on 11 Mar 1999
1.0 out of 5 stars Insulting
Rafkin presents herself as superior to everyone she encounters -- while proudly revealing her own behavior which is beneath contempt.
Published on 19 Jan 1999
4.0 out of 5 stars Inspirational!
I found this book inspirational! What greater incentive could you have to clean your house, and keep it tidy then listening to the complaints of a professional maid... Read more
Published on 4 Nov 1998
4.0 out of 5 stars Inspirational!
I found this book on tape funny and inspirational... After returning home, I pulled the cassette out of the car stereo, and put it in at home, and proceeded to SCRUB my... Read more
Published on 4 Nov 1998
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