An Imperfect Book Review


I’m trying to finish A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits of Disorder by Abrahamson and Freedman. I really am. I started off great-guns. The first couple of chapters were insightful, funny, and inspiring for a gal like me. I’m not a mess, just make a lot of piles and have two too many junk drawers. Well okay, three. The peppy beginning makes a connection with folks like me who can’t stand filth, but don’t see the inherent comfort in ritual cleaning/organization for its own sake. Such things, according to the book, take more time than they save, and if the object of organization is time-saving, well…there’s really no point. Not to mention the armies of organization specialists eager to pick your pockets and hand the cash over to The Container Store.

An entire generation of women brought up on those “How to Catch a Fella and Throw the Perfect Dinner Party” books are gasping for air right now. It’s okay, ladies. Loosen your pearls a notch and take a deep breath, because some things were forever altered when women jumped into the workforce for careers instead of jobs. A great many Women Of a Certain Age figured out – quickly – that they’d rather be judged by their resumes than by the spots on their glasses. And we’re all wearing bras now, thank you.
Any younger gals reading this are perplexed. I love those Gen-X and Gen-Y girls because they have no idea what I’m talking about and that, my friends, is a delightful sign of progress.
Back to the book I can’t finish. After the charming introduction and first couple of chapters, the whole thing begins to read like someone else – a historian with a cramped windowless office, perhaps – took over the helm. I’ll admit my lit degrees have given me low tolerance for nonfiction. I’ve devoured 18th century epistolary novels that weighed in like bibles, but it takes a special writer to carry off 310 pages of information without losing me entirely. I’m trying, though, because here and there are sparkling bits of usable information. Einstein, for example, was a daily disaster and look how proud he made his mama. I get it, there’s just no poetry in it whatsoever. Give me a sentence I can cling to, gentlemen.
It’s like handing a starving woman a Ding Dong when what she really needs is veal piccata.
Don’t worry, Abrahamson and Freedman. I’m going to finish your book because although I was advised to skim it, my Inner Reader won’t let me do it. I might miss something good and I’d never forgive myself. Besides, whoever wrote the first couple of chapters might just reappear in the end to finish up what they started and resuscitate the whole thing. It could happen.