Cover image for The trauma cleaner : one woman's extraordinary life in the business of death, decay, and disaster / Sarah Krasnostein.
Title:
The trauma cleaner : one woman's extraordinary life in the business of death, decay, and disaster / Sarah Krasnostein.
ISBN:
9781250101204
Edition:
First U.S. edition.
Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Press, 2018.

©2017
Physical Description:
291 pages, 8 unnumbered leaves of plates : illustrations ; 22 cm
Abstract:
Before she was a trauma cleaner, Sandra Pankhurst was many things: husband and father, drag queen, gender reassignment patient, sex worker, small businesswoman, trophy wife. . . But as a little boy, raised in violence and excluded from the family home, she just wanted to belong. Now she believes her clients deserve no less. A woman who sleeps among garbage she has not put out for forty years. A man who bled quietly to death in his living room. A woman who lives with rats, random debris and terrified delusion. The still life of a home vacated by accidental overdose. Sarah Krasnostein has watched the extraordinary Sandra Pankhurst bring order and care to these, the living and the dead―and the book she has written is equally extraordinary. Not just the compelling story of a fascinating life among lives of desperation, but an affirmation that, as isolated as we may feel, we are all in this together.
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1 Bob Harkins Branch 363.7 KRA Book Adult General Collection
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Summary

Summary

A fascinating, incredible true story about the person who spends her life cleaning up after traumas.

"Absolutely stunning."--PopSugar

Before she was a trauma cleaner, Sandra Pankhurst was many things: husband and father, drag queen, gender reassignment patient, sex worker, small businesswoman, trophy wife. . . But as a little boy, raised in violence and excluded from the family home, she just wanted to belong. Now she believes her clients deserve no less.

A woman who sleeps among garbage she has not put out for forty years. A man who bled quietly to death in his living room. A woman who lives with rats, random debris and terrified delusion. The still life of a home vacated by accidental overdose.

Sarah Krasnostein has watched the extraordinary Sandra Pankhurst bring order and care to these, the living and the dead--and the book she has written is equally extraordinary. Not just the compelling story of a fascinating life among lives of desperation, but an affirmation that, as isolated as we may feel, we are all in this together.


Author Notes

Sarah Krasnostein is a writer and lawyer, based in Melbourne, but also works part of the year in New York City. She has a doctorate in criminal law and is a lecturer and researcher. She focuses on the history of crime and punishment, comparative law, sentencing law and criminal justice policy. Her first book is entitled, The Trauma Cleaner: One Woman's Extraordinary Life in Death, Decay & Disaster. It won the 2018 Australian Book Industry Awards, General nonfiction book of the year, the 2018 Victorian Prize for Literature, and the 2018 Victorian Premier's Literary Award for Non-Fiction.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

Krasnostein, an Australian legal academic, profiles transgender trauma cleaner Sandra Pankhurst in this intriguing but vexing debut biography. Pankhurst runs a small business cleaning homes marred by blood, feces, drugs, mold, and garbage, but her personal history proves more fascinating. Krasnostein explores this history in chapters that alternate with cleaning-site visits. Six of the eight visits feature hoarders or squalor; two are to sites where accidental deaths occurred. Krasnostein details each site with tragic if repetitive effect, but rarely convincingly ties them to Pankhurst's life story. Born male and subsequently adopted and abused, Pankhurst eventually landed a blue-collar job, a wife, a drug addiction, and a prostitution habit, and helped raise two children, whom he abandoned to pursue a sex-change. After undergoing surgery, Pankhurst became a funeral director, married a wealthy husband, lost a business, then started a new one. At times she displays a violent temper, cheats on her spouses, exploits her employees, dismisses other trans people, and neglects her children, leaving them in poverty. Krasnostein downplays the complexity of Pankhurst's existence in favor of a glowing paean laden with cloying therapy-couch clichés and overwrought metaphors ("I listened to Sandra's news like it was the middle of the Han dynasty and she had just returned west from the Silk Road"). A complex protagonist makes for engaging material, but Krasnostein's fawning adulation minimizes and excuses her subject's flaws in favor of creating an inspirational story that never quite rings true. (Apr.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


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