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Mess: One Man's Struggle to Clean Up…
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Mess: One Man's Struggle to Clean Up His House and His Act

by Barry Yourgrau

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At first the author drove me crazy with his inability to get rid of plastic shopping bags and the many times (page after page) that he brought it up. I wanted to scream,"Get some cloth bags, you can keep them as long as you like! Problem solved." I found his erudite vocabulary tiresome, it seemed like showing off after a while. After a few chapters he started to grow on me a little and I stopped wanting to shake him. Clearly he collects words like so many other things. At least they're not crowding him out of his apartment. Yes, his things have taken over as the title suggests. Things are such a mess that his girlfriend hasn't been allowed inside for years! In any event, he is a talented writer with too much time for introspection and self indulgence. Perhaps a paying job (he borrows money from friends - a lot) or volunteer work would help. His long suffering girlfriend is either a saint or a figment of his imagination. I cannot believe anyone would put up with him. ( )
  knitwit2 | May 22, 2016 |
If you're a fan of Woody Allen, you'll probably enjoy this book. If, on the other hand, you find Woody Allen to be petulant, whiny, and self-centered as I do, then you may want to read this book in a selective manner.
The best parts of the book are Yourgrau's investigations into the lives of true hoarders. If he had focused on famous hoarders of the past and present, this book would have been fascinating from cover to cover. A large portion of the book, unfortunately, details Yourgrau's legitimate, but minor, struggle with his own packrat tendencies. Some of Yourgrau's commentary is unintentionally funny, such as his observation that the problem with cleaning is that you have keep doing it over and over again. Achieving middle age without learning this fact is a luxury most people don't enjoy. Yourgrau's personal epiphany regarding his feelings about his father and their relationship to his things is the best part of Yourgrau's personal story.
Overall this is attempt at a cross between a comic memoir and research on a real and often tragic disorder fails at being either.

Not worth the time, unless you like Woody Allen . . . ( )
  Helcura | May 1, 2016 |
An interesting combination of memoir and exploration of the phenomenon of hoarding. The author seeks to illuminate the various schools of thought on the problem as he tackles and mostly succeeds in disposing of his excess. As a person who sometimes struggles with "disposophobia", I sympathized with some of his agony. I'd recommend the book to anyone who struggles with clutter. ( )
  ReluctantTechie | Nov 2, 2015 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0393241777, Hardcover)

Hilarious and poignant, a glimpse into the mind of someone who is both a sufferer from and an investigator of clutter.

Millions of Americans struggle with severe clutter and hoarding. New York writer and bohemian Barry Yourgrau is one of them. Behind the door of his Queens apartment, Yourgrau’s life is, quite literally, chaos. Confronted by his exasperated girlfriend, a globe-trotting food critic, he embarks on a heartfelt, wide-ranging, and too often uproarious project―part Larry David, part Janet Malcolm―to take control of his crammed, disorderly apartment and life, and to explore the wider world of collecting, clutter, and extreme hoarding.

Encounters with a professional declutterer, a Lacanian shrink, and Clutterers Anonymous―not to mention England’s most excessive hoarder―as well as explorations of the bewildering universe of new therapies and brain science, help Yourgrau navigate uncharted territory: clearing shelves, boxes, and bags; throwing out a nostalgic cracked pasta bowl; and sorting through a lifetime of messy relationships. Mess is the story of one man’s efforts to learn to let go, to clean up his space (physical and emotional), and to save his relationship.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 09 Jul 2015 03:31:11 -0400)

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