Dirt: The Filthy Reality of Everyday Life

Rosie Cox, Rose George, R.H. Horne, Robin Nagle, et al.. Profile (Constortium, dist.), $35 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-846684-791
Most societies spend a good amount of time and energy trying to eradicate, or at the very least hide, dirt. In a recent exhibition, the Wellcome Collection of London chose instead to highlight the multivalent nature of dirt. This delightful and informative companion book qua cultural study contains essays, art, photos, and more on civilization's complicated relationship with grime, dust, waste, and mud. Virginia Smith writes about conceptions of human excretions in "Dirt and the Body;" Rosie Cox discusses cleanliness in the domestic sphere in "Dirt and the Home;" Brian Ralph posits a compelling connection between dirt and creativity in the comic "Crud Club;" and several others—including an anthropologist and an epidemiologist—expound on dirt in the city, environment, and community. With discussions of everything from the al fresco grooming practices of the ancient Greeks; to artist Susan Collis's Waltzer, a wooden broom ornamented with precious and semi-precious stones; to "dirty sex;" to the current transformation of Staten Island's Fresh Kills landfill into a park; this eye-opening volume has got the dirt on dirt. Color photos. (May)
Reviewed on: 05/28/2012
Release date: 04/01/2012
Genre: Nonfiction
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