This is quite possibly the most incredible non-fiction memoir that I have ever read in my life. I know that sounds big, but this book was a real knock-out. It has won countless awards including the Victorian Prize for Literature.
Originally a fantastic long-form essay on Narrative.ly, author Sarah Krasnostein then developed the story of the Trauma Cleaner, Sandra Pankhurst into a full-blown book. Yet absolutely no word in this book is wasted or superfluous.
The way that Krasnostein describes her subject, the fabulous, fierce and chameleon-like figure of Sandra Pankhurst speaks volumes about their strong bond, and also the level of psychological insight that Krasnostein has as a writer.
Sandra Pankhurst is a fiery and bright roman candle that nobody and nothing can ever extinguish. Sandra begun her life as a boy named Peter in the suburb of Footscray in the inner west of Melbourne in the early 60’s.
Under Krasnostein’s sensitive, but yet clear-eyed gaze, there is room for the reader to see Sandra as a decent, hard-working and kind human being but also a person with faults, a shadow side and myopia about her past.
Who is Sandra Pankhurst?
A husband and father, a sexual reassignment patient, a sex worker, a successful business woman, a trophy wife, a lover, a canny negotiator, a loner with few friends. A trauma cleaner who is hired to enter into the dirty, revolting realms of filth where few others would dare to go. Murder scenes, derelict council flats, places inhabited by hoarders who live under striations of rubbish.
Just exactly how Sandra gets from point A to B and all the way to Z will astound you. I read this in one giant gulp of breath in one night. So good, highly recommended. 5*/5
2 thoughts on “Book Review: The Trauma Cleaner: One woman’s extraordinary life in decay and disaster by Sarah Krasnostein”
Thanks for the recommendation — this is type of book that often slips by (me!)
It would have slipped by me too if I didn’t find it in the library. Definitely a great story, the most remarkable stories often come from ordinary non-famous people too I think. I hope you are having a lovely Easter Sunday. Sorry that i didn’t write back earlier Jeremy, I’m attempting to learn several new things during this lockdown and sometimes neglect this blog. Take care