This is a quirky book, from an admittedly quirky author. It’s about Barry Yourgrau's attempt to clean up his apartment. He isn't sure if he's a hoardeThis is a quirky book, from an admittedly quirky author. It’s about Barry Yourgrau's attempt to clean up his apartment. He isn't sure if he's a hoarder or not, he likes to think he's just a messy collector, but when his girlfriend comes to visit and can't get into the door because of all the stuff, well something has to be done. So begins The Project. Yourgrau has a tendency to desperately try connecting himself to almost anything, which is an unnecessary part of the narrative. Like the Collyer brothers, famous hoarders that lived in New York City until their demise in 1947. And there are more fleeting aspects than they both live in New York.
The girlfriend's name changes several times throughout the book, and her mother's as well near the end. It's just a distraction. There are bits of extraneous information everywhere. Most of the parts with the girlfriend aren’t necessary to the story, but if you think of the book as a memoir, then it works better. Yourgrau early on talks about how distracted he gets, so this extra fluff is really part of who he is ultimately.
Yourgrau visits therapists and support groups, like Clutterers Anonymous and investigates other places of hoarders and the people who help them clear their stuff. Of course the television shows of hoarders are mentioned, how could it not? Yourgrau is particularly bent on comparing his problem of stuff with others, often pictures are mentioned but none are provided in the book. Yourgrau definitely has emotional issues tied to his things, and most particularly Father issues, which is explored in the book, as part of The Project.
Overall it is very readable, and interesting to a degree. The writing style and approach is cutesy and a can be annoying at times. Near the end the point of view changes, jarring, unnecessary, but I suppose adds to the quirky distracting nature of the overall book. This is not a book to read to try to fix your own problem, no, it's more just one man's tale of what his experience with his stuff and his life, or how his life affected him to accumulate stuff. And how he de-cluttered, cleaned up. The subtitle really does explain what the book is about. If you want a book to help you declutter your life look elsewhere, but if you're fascinated by the topic this is a good enough read.
One of the most poignant quotes gleaned from the book, a quote from someone else, Susan Pearce an "expert on collecting", she said: "Souvenirs are lost youth, lost friends, lost past happiness; they are the tears of things."
The book freaked me out when I read it. I had a hard time sleeping for a while, even though I lived in an urban area. Did I believe the story? I was sThe book freaked me out when I read it. I had a hard time sleeping for a while, even though I lived in an urban area. Did I believe the story? I was skeptical, but it seemed very believable. Perhaps yes. Today do I believe it? Well, no. Perhaps it was his vivid imagination, or just a good story to tell. ...more
A book to refute the irrationality of the dumb-think of "all you need to do is think positive and all it will be" that we keep encountering in pop-psyA book to refute the irrationality of the dumb-think of "all you need to do is think positive and all it will be" that we keep encountering in pop-psychology, business empowerment, and well, almost anywhere. Let's add some rational thought to our lives. Yes, be hopeful, but not blind. Thank you Ehrenreich!...more