Mess (Review)

I stumbled across Barry Yourgrau’s latest book while searching for professional advice regarding decluttering and downsizing of possessions.  I have to deal with the unenviable tasks of culling my dad’s and my own collections of stuff.  In the process, I discovered the Norfolk (Nebraska) Public Library’s copy of Mess: One Man’s Struggle to Clean Up His House and His Act plus another book about decluttering.

The reader of Yourgrau’s book soon finds out that the theme of the story is to achieve a specific goal.  That is to clean up his dirty, cluttered apartment enough so he can host his girlfriend and her mother for an outstanding dinner.

Just like many of us who own a lot of things, Yourgrau becomes easily distracted.  His apartment was buried in souvenirs, out-dated calendars, boxes, clothing, and even a piano.  He decided to make the cleanup of his abode a writing project.

The reader also discovers that the author has a messy relationship with his girlfriend, too.  She gives him an ultimatum, clean the apartment or else.

While I read the pages of Mess, I experienced a hard time focusing on my efforts to finish reading the book.  I had to wade through scattered narrative, a lot of name-dropping, and Yourgrau’s inability to decide upon definitive names for his girlfriend Mess-02and her mother.  The girlfriend is first called “Cosima”, later she became “Meddy”, then “Prunella”.  Her mother went by the names “Nadya”, then “Polly”. These name-changes and the author’s explanation of them was unnecessary and detracted from the flow of the story.

The book was messed up further with arcane literary references and insider, non-mainstream kudos.  What got me through the first half of Yourgrau’s book was my early decision to make my own project of a book review of the “memoir”.

Finally, the writer decides to describe his interpretations of the psychology and his reasons of cluttering and hoarding through his interactions with consultants and experts. Due to the fact that I also have clutter at home, I was able to empathize with Yourgrau and hope for a successful conclusion to his project.

Thankfully, as the story progresses, it also becomes more focused and easier to follow.  The humor of the writing also becomes more apparent and enjoyable. Ironically, I became motivated to do my own cleaning while reading the first few chapters, but by the end, my cleaning urges became more forced.  I have to give a middling opinion of this book.

Barry Yourgrau is a performer and writer. His previous books include, The Sadness of Sex  and Wearing Dad’s Head.  Some of his articles have appeared in Art in America, Paris Review, Vice, Huffington Post, and the New York Times.

{ Mess: One Man’s Struggle to Clean Up His House and His Act by Barry Yourgrau; 256 pages; published August 2015 by W.W. Norton; ISBN: 978-0-393-24177-8 }

Mess-03The Blue Jay of Happiness observes that the more effort we put into eliminating clutter, clutter reveals itself as dead weight.

About swabby429

An eclectic guy who likes to observe the world around him and comment about those observations.
This entry was posted in Books, cultural highlights and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Mess (Review)

  1. GP Cox says:

    My house is either messy, but organized OR very neat and tidy, but I don’t know where anything is!!!! 🙄

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s