Next to Godliness: Finding the Sacred in Housekeeping

Alice Peck, Editor . SkyLight Paths $19.99 (193p) ISBN 978-1-59473-214-0

In recent years Americans have had a renewed love affair with their homes, so it's no surprise to discover new attentiveness to cleaning them. This collection of tidbits from essays, fiction and poetry that reference housecleaning, compiled by an editor and producer in the television industry, explores everything from Booker T. Washington scolding Negroes who kept house poorly to the "big mess" made by the attacks on the Twin Towers. The book, from a multifaith and multicultural perspective, includes everything from the obvious and well-known (Thich Nhat Hanh and Brother Lawrence on washing dishes) to the less expected (Jarvis Jay Masters writing about cleaning his cell on death row). Some pieces have only the most tenuous connection to housekeeping, much less what's sacred about it, such as the excerpt from Baldwin's Go Tell It on the Mountain , where cleaning serves primarily as backdrop. While many excerpts are intriguing, the collection is largely unprocessed, with only brief introductions to the sections on washing dishes, laundry, sweeping and so forth, and no introductions to the individual excerpts. While each piece includes some aspect of housekeeping, the reader is left not quite knowing what to make of the whole. (Feb.)

Reviewed on: 11/13/2006
Release date: 03/01/2007
Genre: Nonfiction
Hardcover - 224 pages - 978-1-68336-224-1
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