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Cannonball Read IV: The Street Sweeper by Elliot Perlman

By britface | Books | March 20, 2012 |

By britface | Books | March 20, 2012 |


My latest read, The Street Sweeper left me speechless. Trust me when I say I’m not often rendered speechless by anything. I finished this a week ago but I have only just managed to completely process how amazing this book is. I almost want to go back and start reading it all over again.

Eloquently written, featuring a myriad of potentially controversial topics, Perlman has produced a damn good story, which had me hooked from the very first paragraph:

“Memory is a wilful dog. It won’t be summoned or dismissed but it cannot survive without you. It can sustain you or feed on you. It visits when it is hungry, not when you are. It has a schedule all of its own that you can never know. It can capture, corner you or liberate you. It can leave you howling and it can make you smile.”

The Street Sweeper is a remarkable tale that takes us back and forward in time, from contemporary New York to pre-war Poland, from the awful events leading up to the civil rights movement in America to suburban Melbourne. Perlman’s third novel is rich in detail, meticulously plotted, cleverly constructed, with often shimmering prose. What stands out to me however, is the deliberateness of his approach. Here is a man with a lot to say about memory, responsibility, consequence, respect, history, legacy, connections, and Perlman expertly incorporates these ideas into the many intertwining stories told within The Street Sweeper.

I came away from The Street Sweeper with a profound sense of peace and understanding. It left me, at times, reeling. It made me bawl, thinking about what we as humans are capable of. It made me smile; the story is so realistic and so incredibly uplifting. The thing I loved most about this book, though: I didn’t want to put it down. I don’t think I could possibly recommend The Street Sweeper highly enough.

This review is part of Cannonball Read IV. Read all about it, and find more of britface’s reviews on the group blog.