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Clean - Michele Kirsch

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Clean - a story of addiction, recovery and the removal of stubborn stains
Michele Kirsch
Paperback / softback
Short Books
UK Publication Date

***2020 winner of the Christopher Bland Prize***

"Beautifully crafted and written, filled with darkness and light, compelling... She fights addiction with honesty and humour. And, like her, [we] come away changed forever." Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, RSL Christopher Bland Prize

When Michele Kirsch's father is killed in a train crash, her mother gets the vapours and Michele gets extremely nervous. By her mid-teens, she has found salvation in valium. Her favourite words on the prescription sheet are "Take As Needed", which she interprets as Take All The Time.

Later, as a wife and mother, she adds alcohol into the mix, and before long her life is spinning out of control. Leaving home "for the sake of the family", she takes the scenic route to rehab, redemption and reinvention.

But this is no misery memoir. Clean is a darkly comic tale about the difficult choices we have to make as we navigate our lives. While working as a domestic cleaner in her 50s, Michele finds herself living vicariously through other people's messes, tidying her way through early sobriety. As the Duster of Large Things, she taps into her natural nosiness to reveal the absurdities of a seemingly banal job.

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Michele Kirsch is a writer and cook living in East London. She has worked as a teacher, a press officer, a journalist, a glass washer, a house cleaner and a cook - in that order. Her first book, Clean, was winner of the RSL Christopher Bland Prize 2020, Book of the Week in the Daily Mail and The Lady, and Book of The Month in Psychologies.

Rarely can a dark memoir have been so comic, or a comic memoir so dark... The dry, black humour of the book makes it a pleasure to read... Poignant.
Daily Mail

Beautifully crafted and written, filled with darkness and light, compelling... She fights addiction with honesty and humour. And, like her, [we] come away changed forever.
Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, RSL Christopher Bland Prize

Clean is that rare book that can literally make you laugh and cry within the space of a few pages. A searing and often painfully funny story of reaching rock bottom and finding hope again, it deserves to win every book award going.

A memoir of addiction and recovery that is funny, sad and transcendent. It says so much about addiction - not just the drink and drugs kind, but also all the rituals and behaviours we use to get by. I could not put it down.

I LOVE this book

Michele Kirsch is a born storyteller
The Guardian

I adored Michele Kirsch's memoir, I marveled at the form as well as the content of her remarkable life, and her honest, unflinching self-reflection.
Sara Collins, RSL Christopher Bland Prize

This is a sharply observed memoir which is hilarious, totally compelling and impossible to put down. It bubbles with energy, wry observation and telling social comment from both sides of the Atlantic.
Andrew Lycett, RSL Christopher Bland Prize

Kirsch is conscious of all the ironies in her life, poking fun at her early naivet and daring us not to laugh at her mishaps.
The Herald

Michele Kirsch's Clean swiftly asserts itself as a riot of unconscionable colour... Kirsch wrestles humour from her situation in the manner of a stand-up comedian. You laugh, even when you know the material should bring you to tears.

Her journey takes in relapses and broken bonds: a compassionate realism infused with quiet hope. Leavened with humour and wit, but never shying away from the fall-out and squalor of addiction, this is a compelling and exquisitely written memoir.
The Lady - Juanita Coulson

Never self-pitying... a warm, absorbing memoir
Times Literary Supplement

Keyword Index
Women drug addicts - Great Britain - Biography.|Drug addicts - Great Britain - Biography.|Drug addicts - Rehabilitation.
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