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Clutter Control: Putting Your Home on a Diet.

Are you the type who has keys to a house you owned 15 years ago, out-of-focus photos of people you don't even recognize, shopping bags full of used gift wrap, or stacks and stacks of old National Geographic magazines that you swear will be read some day? If so, this book is for you.

"The war against clutter has two possible outcomes: either you own your stuff or your stuff owns you," proclaims the book jacket. How true. And much like the unhappy drinker who finally admits he has an alcohol problem, clutterholics have to want help if they are to reform. Campbell offers practical assistance right away, as the first chapter is entitled aptly, "The Uncluttering Rules." From there, the nuts-and-bolts of decluttering are detailed.

What makes this book special, however, is the chapter, "The Psychology of Clutter." Human beings, claims the author, "see the self represented or symbolized in objects." He maintains that modern man's mantra is: "See this collection of goodies? This is me--this is who I am." It would be better, he indicates, simply "to exist just as you are, without an array of psychological props through which [to] define yourself." To illustrate his point, Campbell tells of the monk who burned down his house every few years to ensure he was not getting attached to material things. The psychological subsection, "The Slobs vs. the Fussbudgets" is especially amusing, probably because its Felix and Oscar "Odd Couple" approach is so true to life. The author contends that clutter is a "behavioral phenomenon" and that exploring some of the dilemma's psychological roots can give people "insight into the dynamics" of their cluttering behavior and "may afford [the individual] great and tangible relief." The book is laid out in large type with airy and (fittingly enough) uncluttered columns, allowing plenty of room for the many amusing, on-target illustrations. The pictorial humor is a welcomed respite from the tough task of declutterization. Campbell, who founded The Clean Team, one of San Francisco's most renowned cleaning services, invariably takes a tough, no-nonsense approach. Though the book is dotted with numerous whimsical asides, he cuts his readers no slack during clean-up exercises. He is flexible in his reorganization guidelines, but when it comes to what stays and what goes, one dictum reigns supreme: When in doubt, throw it out.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Society for the Advancement of Education
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Barrett, Wayne M.
Publication:USA Today (Magazine)
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Mar 1, 1993
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