Book Review: Mess by Barry Yourgrau

One man’s struggle to clean up his house and his act


Mess: One Man’s Struggle to Clean Up His House and His Act

By Barry Yourgrau

W.W. NORTON

After a me-or-the-mess ultimatum from his girlfriend, Barry Yourgrau reluctantly tackles his cluttered apartment, sorting through treasures, trash, and our messy relationship with accumulation. As part of what he comes to call his Project, he shadows “Disaster Masters” as they empty a hoarder’s stash and navigates the “goat paths” of a British man’s “hoarding Valhalla.” Yourgrau, best known for his surreal fiction, comes to understand why it can be so absurdly hard to break free of the “intimate pull of objects.”