Wednesday, June 09, 2010

The Dead Janitors Club -- Jeff Klima

According to his bio in the back of the book, "Jeff Klima is a devilishly handsome jack-of-all-trades who makes love like a banshee. If that frightens you, perhaps you'd be happier reading something a little less awesome." It's a good thing I don't frighten easily.

After a series of dead-end jobs in retail (including a porn shop), Klima jumped at the chance to get in on a start-up business that involved cleaning crime scenes. He had no experience, no training, no real clue about what to do. He had to learn on the job. His memoir tells all about it. And more. It's not just about the job but about Klima's life, which seems always seems to be just about to get out of his control. While he works the crime scenes, he's a college grad who's still living in the frat house because he can't afford to leave. He lives from job to job, and when there aren't any jobs, he doesn't pay his bills or his taxes. But it's better than retail.

Klima has a knack for fast-moving narrative and dark humor, which is the kind you'd expect in a book like this. It's gory and gruesome, and Klima doesn't spare any details. He spent two years in the business, and in that time he saw the results of just about every kind of death you can imagine. Suicides, murders, accidents, deaths in prison, deaths in cars, you name it and he cleaned it. And that's not all. The business branched out to cleaning hoarder houses. Reading about some of these made me feel like Mr. Clean by comparison. It's all terrible but fascinating.

Klima eventually left the business and got another low-paying job, maybe because he could no longer stand to be "this racist, uncompassionate whelp who sees dead bodies as dollar signs and trauma as a means to a fancy dinner out. . . ." Not a nice guy, and even by the end he's not a lot nicer. He has a way with words, though, and if this book's any example, he's on his way to a new career as a writer. It's gotta be better than retail.


Anonymous said...

Wasn't there a movie like that with Amy Adams?

I saw a little of that hoarding show the other day, Bill. I'm glad we're not like those guys.


Unknown said...

SUNSHINE CLEANERS. And I'm glad we're not like those hoarders, too.

Anonymous said...

Thanks. I checked and it was SUNSHINE CLEANING, which I put on hold at the library.