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The Street Sweeper by Elliot Perlman

The Street Sweeper (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Elliot Perlman

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3194834,767 (4.19)41
Title:The Street Sweeper
Authors:Elliot Perlman
Info:Riverhead Hardcover (2012), Hardcover, 640 pages
Collections:Your library, Favorites
Tags:fiction, Holocaust, black civil rights movement

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The Street Sweeper by Elliot Perlman (2012)



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Showing 1-5 of 47 (next | show all)
Something has gone bizarrely amiss for me with this one. I've only been able to make it to just about half way before having to give up for now. The subject matter is interesting but I am finding the writing extremely unengaging. Part of the problem for me is the dry and unconvincing way in which historical information is presented, an example of which being several pages of dialogue between two people intimately versed in the history of the civil rights movement telling each other in great detail what events happened when. Ludicrous.

I'm also finding the writing rather clunky and can't understand why Perlman repeats pointless/pedestrian information (e.g. people's full names and occupations) several times in the space of a few pages. There's also a reuse of turns of phrase that smacks of poor proof-reading and or a lack of effort.

I'm kind of stunned, particularly as this book came to me highly recommended and because I loved Three Dollars and was assured it was the vastly inferior offering. I hope one day I'll manage to get through the rest, but right now I have very little reading time to spare and can't stand the thought of being stuck with this monotony for weeks and weeks. ( )
  Vivl | Dec 2, 2015 |
Highly recommended read. At first you may find it hard to get into but when it gets going this is a very well crafted book which manages to draw parallels with the Holocaust and the civil rights movement and race relations in the USA. Some truly memorable and haunting sections dealing with Auschwitz really stick out for me- the book stays with you a long while after finishing. ( )
  polarbear123 | Nov 15, 2015 |
I got swept into this story without really realizing that was what was happening. At first, the various threads seemed much too disparate, but gradually I realized what the author was doing, and how the stories he was telling were going to intersect, although it seemed quite unlikely. As the connections were revealed I felt a little thrilled, despite the intense harshness of some of the narrative, particularly the Holocaust sections. The graphic descriptions of what happened in Auschwitz were particularly moving and disturbing, and were for a time the most compelling part of the novel to me. The author's style, almost an oral-storytelling model, with a lot of repetition of phrases that became almost melodic, seemed necessary by the end, since so much of the story was about a story that must never be forgotten. How else to remember than to be told, over and over, and over again. Not in an imposing way, but simply for emphasis and effect. And it was certainly effective. ( )
  karenchase | Aug 20, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Elliot Perlman's "The Street Sweeper" is a novel of big themes and big ideas. The Civil Rights Movement in the United States and the Holocaust are powerfully woven together in Perlman's grand novel through stories found and lost. Synchronicity guides the action and we too suffer, learn, and seek redemption like characters in a mythic play. A must read. ( )
  greggchadwick | Apr 18, 2015 |
We have tackled some big books this year and Perlman’s The Street Sweeper is the last of them. A sweeping (sorry about the pun) novel of over 500 pages, its story content is dense and at times harrowing, but was given huge praise from the majority of our group.
Some of us did find its volume too daunting and at best ‘just another holocaust story’, but of those that read to the end, it was thought unanimously a well-written, emotional story that horrified yet moved us.

We found Lamont an endearing character and quickly jumped on his bandwagon for the duration of the ride. Adam was intriguing and contained many characteristics of Perlman’s other protagonists, particularly from Three Dollars and Seven Types of Ambiguity.
And then there was the ‘memory’ theme that wove strong throughout the book …

Memory is a willful dog. It won’t be summoned or dismissed but it cannot survive without you. It can sustain you or feed on you. It visits when it is hungry, not when you are. It has a schedule all its own that you can never know, It can capture you, corner you or liberate you. It can leave you howling and it can make you smile.

This paragraph was sighted by a few of us as being very poignant to the storyline, as there were many aspects and views that needed to come together. And in the end history is written by memories … what they contain and what they miss.

Overall The Street Sweeper scored high with our group. An indication that this novel promises a high quality read for those looking for such. ( )
  DaptoLibrary | Dec 1, 2014 |
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Book description
Lamont Williams is a paroled felon looking to turn his life around, working as a street sweeper at a large city hospital and searching for his estranged daughter. Adam Zignelik is a struggling, nontenured professor, paralyzed by looming failure, his life falling apart around him. He discovers a cache of recordings of previously unheard voices reaching out from a horrific past, voices that can both save his career and bring him back to the woman he loves. At the same time, Lamont forges an unlikely friendship with a dying man, who, having lived through those horrors, has a crucially important story to tell and to preserve. The worlds surrounding these two men, their families, their pasts, their potential futures, swirl in and out of history as the forces of the Holocaust, the American civil rights movement, Chicago unions, and New York City racial politics combine in a thrilling cross- generational literary symphony.
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"From the author of Seven Types of Ambiguity, an epic that reaches across generations and spans continents, revealing the interconnectedness and interdependence of humanity and the profound impact of memory on our lives"--

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