Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Dream House, by Valerie Laken

This was wonderful.
Kate and Stuart, a teacher and a programmer, buy a dilapidated house in Ann Arbor in an up-and-coming (read: gentrifying) neighborhood, planning to fix it up themselves, and, well, live the American dream.
This novel brought in more of the realities of what went so wrong with the housing market, what made people so desperate to buy into the bubble, what drove the engine of so much misery, than several of the nonfiction books I've read on the same topic.
It was almost elegiacal, and wound together threads of many lives that were tied into the house itself- former residents, a young man who had worked for a cleaning crew that came in after deaths, Kate and Stuart and their families, the way that material objects (futons, boilers, grills) can come to embody such powerful meaning (college, sex, death). No building could fulfill all the longing these characters had, but it was inevitable that they all try to make the structure stand for all they needed.
Haunting, beautifully written, and mournful.
"Sometimes, the nights, I don't want to waste them sleeping."
Hell of a good line. I wish I'd written that.


Anonymous said...

When she came into the library on Sunday, I gave my mom this book because I remembered reading that you liked it.

Lexi said...

Oh, I so hope she likes it. The first chapter is a little grim- then you are hooked, and then it becomes magnificent and tragic, all like Wagner.