A Cleaning Woman
By Christian Oster
(Other Press, Hardcover, 9781590510391, 208pp.)
Publication Date: February 17, 2003
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A Cleaning Woman traces the complexities of desire through the sensitive, sensual observations of a man in the thrall of ecstasy.
As a long-standing relationship ends, Jacques finds himself irresistibly drawn to the leaflets advertising the cleaning services of an anonymous woman identified only by her initials. Once he learns her name, and the details of her affairs, he enters into an erotic relationship that challenges the class taboos that stand between them.
This novel offers the unique perspective of a heartbroken man desperately infatuated with a woman he has just met. We hear his wistful appreciation of her every tuft of hair and catch each dust mote that hovers over them. Meanwhile, the narratorâÄôs possessive gaze blinds his ability to see himself at all. His dryness teases the reader into believing in his modesty, while we see him hilariously exposed when the story unravels around him.
Christian Oster's polished style and his perfect control of point-of-view guide his reader through the psychological realism of obsession and desire. The honesty of emotion in this novel is matched only by its subversive intent.
"A Cleaning Woman is a roman noir-tragic and comical-where the most intimate and intractable disappointments are played out."
"The real contract of faith between Oster and us, his readers, is that when we open his books we are almost certain to find out about ourselves."
Christian Oster is a novelist who lives in Paris. In the last two decades, he has published eight novels as well as numerous stories, poems, and essays in French reviews.