From the acclaimed author and columnist: a laugh-out-loud journey into the world of real estate—the true story of one woman’s “imperfect life lived among imperfect houses” and her quest for the four perfect walls to call home.
After an itinerant suburban childhood and countless moves as a grown-up—from New York City to Lincoln, Nebraska; from the Midwest to the West Coast and back—Meghan Daum was living in Los Angeles, single and in her mid-thirties, and devoting obscene amounts of time not to her writing career or her dating life but to the pursuit of property: scouring Craigslist, visiting open houses, fantasizing about finding the right place for the right price. Finally, near the height of the real estate bubble, she succumbed, depleting her life’s savings to buy a 900-square-foot bungalow, with a garage that “bore a close resemblance to the ruins of Pompeii” and plumbing that “dated back to the Coolidge administration.”
From her mother’s decorating manias to her own “hidden room” dreams, Daum explores the perils and pleasures of believing that only a house can make you whole. With delicious wit and a keen eye for the absurd, she has given us a pitch-perfect, irresistible tale of playing a lifelong game of house.
By turns disarming and tedious, Daum's (The Quality of Life Report) cautionary tale about "house lust" tracks her dizzying succession of moves from New York City to Lincoln, Neb., to Los Angeles. Place becomes inextricably linked with being, and fashioning an impressive shelter creates a whole life, from choosing college at Vassar because it could ultimately secure her "a shabby yet elegant prewar apartment in Manhattan" to a self-empowering, self-confessed hare-brained relocation at age 29 single, and now an established journalist and author to the plains of Nebraska to achieve the perpetually elusive "domestic integrity." Desiring to be that person who "deserved" to have the perfect living situation, Daum is seized by full-blown real-estate addiction, despite her inability to afford anything like her dream place, and she eventually migrates from the modest charms of a Lincoln farmhouse to the "parched crevices" of L.A., where she aims to write a screenplay. Here the locus of her memoir fixes on the purchase of a dilapidated bungalow in Echo Park in 2004: becoming a homeowner translates into being an "evolved human." Alas, the outcome is sadly predictable, even the finding-the-man-to-fill-the-house with, but Daum's treading in the wake of the burst housing bubble is sweet and timely.