Mj's Reviews > The Street Sweeper

The Street Sweeper by Elliot Perlman
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May 03, 12

bookshelves: fiction
Read from April 12 to May 03, 2012

I "hope" to write a more specific review at a later date. I can't quite figure out how to write a review that does the book justice and captures the essence of the book and its topics and the author.

This is the first book I have ever read by Elliot Perlman. He is a very talented writer and a master of his craft. This book is a combination of historical fiction, mystery, suspense, character development, love and relationship, families, guilt, hope - you name it. It is very well researched - the Holocaust and death camps, the Civil Rights movement and inherent racism in American institutions, Universities publish or perish practice etc.

The book weaves together the stories of strangers (both living and dead). Their personal relationships are a large part of the book and the basis for much of the character development. In addition, their life experiences are an integral part of the research and fact sharing in the book. Perlman's sharing is not a cold, objective listing of facts but rather sharing the "truth" in such a way that it made a huge emotional impact on me as a reader. His descriptions of the Jewish prisoners executed in death camps always included personal characteristics of the individual - I think to remind us of the humanity of the victims, lest we try to toughen up our emotions when reading about the horrors and just objectify them as numbers.

From what I've read about Perlman's other works, I think he likes to weave stories. In this book, for me anyway, I think the weaving was a great idea and essential for him to tell the entire story as he wanted. Reading about the atrocities in the death camps all at once would probably have overwhelmed me but by reading it for a while, then moving on to another story and later back to it, I was able to internalize and process the information at a rate I could handle.

I also thought the weaving of stories really illustrated the six points of separation theory and that we are all connected

The book is so well written and the shared information so important, that it is really a must read; not in spite of but because of, the graphic details. Stay with it. It is worth it.

There is lyrical prose, lots of dialogue (outer and inside one's head), historical facts, you name it.

This book has it all. ENGROSSING is an appropriate term I think.

Perlman made me think, made me feel, made me learn, made me question. You can't ask for much more out of a book. I look forward to reading more of his works (those currently published) and the future ones to come.
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Comments (showing 1-7 of 7) (7 new)

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message 1: by Michael (new) - added it

Michael Anson It's funny you start out wondering if you could do the book justice in a review, yet what you wrote was compelling enough for me to read it. I'm ordering it on Barnes and Noble's website tonight. As a side note, my fiction writing instructor recommended a book called "The Bigness of the World," by Lori Ostlund. Check out a review of it on amazon. It also looks to be a compelling read.


message 2: by Michael (new) - added it

Michael Anson I meant to add, I am starting to write a story about a Catholic priest who takes the place of a Jew in a concentration camp so the more books you can think that deal with the Holocaust, the better. Even works of fiction on the topic appeal to me.


message 3: by Mj (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mj Michael wrote: "It's funny you start out wondering if you could do the book justice in a review, yet what you wrote was compelling enough for me to read it. I'm ordering it on Barnes and Noble's website tonight. ..."

Thanks Michael. Appreciate the comment and the suggestion.


Vincent I agree MJ, great job. I have read the book and also loved it as well as his other book, Seven Types of Ambiguity. Check it out, you won't be disappointed.


message 5: by Mj (last edited Sep 07, 2012 05:28PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mj Thanks Vincent. I had noticed you read 7 Types of Ambiguity and gave it a 5 star rating. It's on my To Read List that I keep off-line. For a while now, other books keep getting in the way. Too many books....too little time. lol and great joy!!


Vincent I know the feeling. Hope all is well!


message 7: by Mj (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mj I'm doing well. I see you've been a reading machine and read some great stuff. Owe you an email. Write to you soon.


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