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The trauma cleaner : one woman's extraordinary life in death, decay & disaster / by Sarah Krasnostein.

By: Krasnostein, Sarah.
Material type: materialTypeLabelBookPublisher: Melbourne, Victoria : Text Publishing Company, 2017Copyright date: ©2017Description: 261 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (some colour), portraits ; 24 cm.ISBN: 9781925498523 (paperback).Subject(s): Pankhurst, Sandra | Cleaning personnel | Accidents | Violent deathsDDC classification: 361 Summary: 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 loungeroom. 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.
List(s) this item appears in: Davitt Awards short list 2018
Item type Current location Collection Call number Status Date due Barcode Item reserves
Default Sunshine Library
Non-fiction BIOG 361 PANK Issued 08/01/2019 IA2007361
Default Deer Park Library (DIY)
Non-fiction BIOG 361 PANK Issued 10/01/2019 IA2007356
Default Sunshine Library (DIY)
Non-fiction BIOG 361 PANK Issued 06/01/2019 IA2007360
Default Sydenham Library
Non-fiction BIOG 361 KRAS Issued 05/01/2019 IA1561944
Default Sunshine Library (DIY)
Non-fiction BIOG 361 PANK Issued 11/01/2019 IA1436937
Default St Albans Library
Non-fiction BIOG 361 KRAS Issued 04/01/2019 IA1603047
Total reserves: 0

Includes bibliographical references.

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 loungeroom. 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.

Reviews provided by Syndetics

Publishers 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.

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* As journalist Krasnostein trails the titular trauma cleaner Sandra Parkhurst while she tidies the houses of all manner of hoarders and the places where people have died in all manner of terrible ways (and frequently been left to rot afterward), the pair encounters a moldering cornucopia of awful, often-frightening smells. Had this uniquely gifted and nuanced chronicler of offensive odors stuck with describing the fragrance of ancient dried blood, antediluvian dust, and unspeakable effluents, Krasnostein's debut would be memorable enough, but her subject's life story is more remarkable and often just as harrowing as the scent of the derelict apartments she excavates for a living. Adopted into a family that trounces the Dursleys in both favoritism and hostile neglect, Parkhurst had the near-catastrophic misfortune of being born transgender in Australia at a time long before such a designation was even conceivable. After an attempt at normality, Parkhurst turns to prostitution and drug abuse. Krasnostein encounters Parkhurst in the third iteration of her life: an aging widow with a terminal illness, a thriving business cleaning up putrid dwellings, and a miraculously chipper attitude. Through countless encounters with the fetid, the neglected, and the downright tragic, Parkhurst has found meaning and peace, and Krasnostein a singular subject whom she approaches with well-deserved awe.--Williamson, Eugenia Copyright 2018 Booklist

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