Thursday, October 4, 2018

The Trauma Cleaner; Sarah Krasnostein



AUTHOR: Sarah Krasnostein
PUBLISHER: St. Martin's Press
PUB. YEAR: 2018
SETTING:  Australia
FORMAT:  - print - library
RATING: 2.5/5 stars


When I first learned about this book, I thought it was a book of stories about a woman whose business, Specialized Trauma Cleaning Services (STC), did the specialized work, few people would ever want to do: cleaning up crime scenes, places where unattended deaths and suicides occurred, drug shooting galleries, hoarders houses etc. Those were the stories I was hoping to read about. The book is written by Sarah Krasnostein who followed Sandra P to at least 20 job sites around Melbourne, Australia over a period of about 4 years. The title, however, is very misleading.

The book is more of a memoir/biography. Yes, it does elaborate on the various jobs that Sandra Pankhurst has performed. She seemed to have a way of making her clients accept her, allowing her to do the work that needed to be done.   

In alternating chapters we read about some of her trauma cases, as well, as information about her horrible childhood, early marriage and fathering two sons (and abandoning them) all prior to her transgender surgery in the 1980s. We also read about her life as a prostitute and drag queen, life of abuse and violence and descent into drugs and alcohol.

Sandra Pankhurst is an unreliable narrator, now in her early 60s, who is losing her memory due to years of drug abuse and alcoholism. She is also is in need of a lung transplant and needs an oxygen tank to breath. Because of these serious health issues,  I really wasn't sure how much I was reading was accurate or what was embellished. I thought that the writing style was at times off putting - things that happened in the past were written in the 3rd person present, and, the author seemed to over do the praise, respect and compliments about Sandra.  For me this was more than a little disappointing.

26 comments:

  1. It doesn't sound overly good, but that is tough work.

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  2. It sounds like there's a good story in there somewhere but it's not presented well.

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  3. Quite the gnarly story. What was the author's point about her subject? Or did she have one?

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    1. Well, from the cover and blurb, one might think it was about an unusual occupation, but then wham, bio/memoir ( a unconventional one for sure).

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  4. This sounds like it would be a very interesting book if it was better written. I've always wished I had gone into forensic science.

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  5. I agree....I was disappointed, too. I had hoped this would deal more with her actual job, but there was very little about that.

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  6. Thanks for your honest review, Diane. I'd not heard of this one before venturing here.

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    1. It's very different for sure and not a book for everyone for sure.

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  7. Hmmm...I'm not sure what to think. Was it a novel or a memoir? What's up with the unreliable narrator? I don't blame you for disliking it. ;-)

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    1. I'm not sure, I was expecting NF about a career choice but, it was half bio/memoir, I'd have to say.

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  8. The story in itself should have been a strong one. Sorry it did not work out well.

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    1. Thanks, It was just not what I thought when I went into it.

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  9. Hi Diane,
    Hmmm... I read the same book blurb hype that you seem to have read. I can fully understand your dismay, because the exact same marketing tactics were used on the best-selling memoir, Educated: A Memoir. The hype for the latter book totally played up the Oxford education angle, while covering up what most of the book was about--her terrorized upbringing in a fundamentalist, survivalist home in the wilds of southern Idaho.
    Though the book was harrowing, I was in thrall to the memoir and to the memoirist's attempts to break free of her life-threatening home background. When December rolls around, I will name it one of the most compelling, if not the most compelling and worthwhile reads of my reading year. YET, the publisher's marketing department camouflaged what the book was really about--so completely, that I am really embarrassed for the people who were behind that marketing sham. I don't like to think of myself as being manipulated into reading a book. But I was. Oh, has it all come to this??? Is this where we are now? Horrors.

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    1. Judith, YES, Educated is a great example of another book, I liked a lot less than I was expecting, based on the media blurbs. Perhaps we should stop reading those LOL

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  10. I am sorry this one didn't live up to it's potential and your expectations, that is so disappointing.

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    1. I'm still glad I tried, but, I was just expecting to like it more.

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  11. This does not sound like a book I would enjoy. It's too bad the marketing blurb was misleading, but that seems to happen more often than not, doesn't it?

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    1. Yes, I am very disappointed, feeling I was at least a bit misled.

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  12. Oh no, that's too bad because it does seem like it would be throughly fascinating! I watch a German comedy which is about a trauma cleaner and it's so funny but would love to read something serious. Too bad this one didn't live up to the expectations!

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  13. It's a weird subject for a book, but I've heard good things about this. I might give it a go sometime.

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  14. I am not a fan or memoirs but I'm sure a job like that would give you plenty of stories to share (if) you could accurately remember them, and had a flair for story telling.

    A gal was in our book club for a short while who was the County Coroner and some of her stories were just fascinating. Not the same work but she received plenty of murder victims and the sequencing of what went down was interestingly pulled from marks on the body, estimates of time of death bases on coagulation, etc. Very interesting.

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  15. It seems like there were two different books to be told here. Too bad you didn't get just the one the title seems to be referring to.

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