NOVEL APPROACH: Out, damned spot!

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First Posted: 3/17/2014

In the world of good and evil, clean versus unclean, there are two types of people: those who are lenient as they happily or apathetically coexist with dust, dirt, and grime, and the alternative, those who view dirt like a plague. A discoloration of the carpet, hairballs in the corner by the couch, or the bits and bobs their bag collects — it’s all enough to send the latter folks into a fit of cleanliness-is-next-to-godliness rage.

Not unlike that phantom spot to Lady Macbeth’s eyes, in Jolie Kerr’s debut work, “My Boyfriend Barfed in My Handbag…and Other Things You Can’t Ask Martha,” we join her while laughing and screaming, “Out, damned spot!”

While we may or may not be as crazy as Lady Macbeth, Kerr, otherwise known as the supreme goddess of all things clean, is here to the rescue with hilarious tales of cleaning woes and peculiarities. Kerr, who began writing cleaning advice columns (“Ask A Clean Person”) for Deadspin and Jezebel, took inspiration from the dirtiest questions she received to publish her first-ever book.

In the work, Kerr emphasizes that she’s experienced it all — the good, the bad, and the filthy. As a result, some of the incidents within the collection might be too taboo for the likes of housekeeping mogul Martha Stewart. Let’s face it — tennis balls and fluffing rings were definitely not what good old Martha intended for laundering protein stains.

Kerr advises readers on cleaning everything from the normal to the obscure. Inexpensive fixes for cleaning without harmful chemicals, removing stains from a variety of upholstery, dealing with bong water spills, polishing copper (who knew Tabasco was so versatile?), and, of course, getting your boyfriend’s barf out of your handbag. The tutorials are helpful but, more than anything, hilarious. A mixture of sarcasm and bossiness, Kerr showcases herself as a bit of a cleaning dominatrix, cracking the whip for you to clean it right the first time. “This is for your own good; it hurts me more than it hurts you.”

This book is not your mama or papa’s guide to housekeeping, unless they have a sense of humor as big as their cleaning list. “My Boyfriend Barfed in My Handbag…and Other Things You Can’t Ask Martha” is a great guide for anyone seeking a life of gleam in their home. Much more than a book of cleaning dos and don’ts, it gives readers perspective into a life of laughter amidst the battle with the immortal dust bunny.

‘My Boyfriend Barfed in My Handbag…and Other Things You Can’t Ask Martha’ by Jolie Kerr Rating: W W W W V