Sex and Real Estate: Why We Love Houses [NOOK Book]


Cultural historian Marjorie Garber offers incisive and witty commentary on what men and women today really want in her enlightening study of what may be the most meaningful relationship any of us will ever have.

Real estate has become a form of “yuppie pornography.” Hopes of summer romance have given way to hopes of summer homes, and fantasies of Romeo have been replaced by fantasies of remodeling. Even real estate ads are flirtatious in their...
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Sex and Real Estate: Why We Love Houses

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Cultural historian Marjorie Garber offers incisive and witty commentary on what men and women today really want in her enlightening study of what may be the most meaningful relationship any of us will ever have.

Real estate has become a form of “yuppie pornography.” Hopes of summer romance have given way to hopes of summer homes, and fantasies of Romeo have been replaced by fantasies of remodeling. Even real estate ads are flirtatious in their offers of bedrooms that are sensuous and sinks that are seductive. Thus the house you live in, like the partner you choose, can be everything from your beloved to your dream to a status symbol trophy. Marjorie Garber has fashioned a uniquely fascinating book that is as provocative as it is pleasurable, as erudite as it is entertaining, one sure to make readers consider more closely the rooms in which they live.

From the Trade Paperback edition.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Anyone who has looked, even casually, at what are called "shelter" magazines, or who has engaged in the exhausting process of buying or selling property, will have been struck by the peculiarly erotic quality of the language used to describe the houses we live in or seek to own. Perhaps prompted by her own foray into real estate, Garber, author of Symptoms of Culture and Dog Love, among many other books, applies her richly stocked scholarly imagination to a consideration of the cultural role of the house. In a series of witty essays on the "House as Mother," as "Beloved," as "Body," as "Trophy" and the like, Garber segues smoothly in the course of a page or two from Freud and Jung to Chaucer, Shakespeare and popular film, effectively elaborating her contention that the house is not just something on which we lavish our erotic or emotional attention in lieu of a more appropriate object, but is also "a primary object of affection and desire." As a professor of English at Harvard and director of its Humanity Center, Garber is an established academic. While dazzling, her erudition is not intimidating; this book is bound to prompt lively after dinner discussion and perhaps a little abashed self-recognition in the nation's suburban great rooms and downtown lofts. (July) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Library Journal
Despite the title, this book is much more entertaining and witty than frivolous. Garber (English, Harvard Univ.) has published books on the psychological aspects of cross dressing, "symptoms" of culture, and dog love. Her new book has an easy writing style, appealing to the academic researcher, the student, and the browser. She advises in the introduction that her "chapters explore the cultural role of the house as mother, lover, body or self, fantasy, trophy, history and escape." Whether the book is cataloged as a study of architecture, house and home, sexual fantasy, or the home in popular culture, there is something of interest to a wide audience.--Mary Hamel-Schwulst, Towson Univ., MD Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\
Kathleen Caldwell
Sex and Real Estate offers some fun, provocative reading-especially for culture mavens and, more particularly, for anyone who suffers from chronic real-estate cravings or house-swapping addiction.
Hope Magazine
Kirkus Reviews
Mixing cultural criticism with a belletristic style of writing, Garber (English/Harvard) argues that people love their houses as truly and as passionately as each other. "The house can be a primary object of affection and desire—not a displacement or a substitute or a metaphor," writes Garber (Dog Love, 1996). In other words, the quest for the perfect house does not represent, say, a need for security. It's simply an overlooked, legitimate, and integral component of our yearning: the desire for the perfect house. Garber maintains that houses have been at the heart of romance, particularly middle-class romance, as long as romance has been around. Similarly, she concludes that the concept of the dream house has been a fixture of consumer culture since its inception. Its cousin on steroids, the trophy house, provides Garber with still more examples of how a presumably mundane building can be the locus of desire. She points to Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, in which Daisy's house has an air of "breathless intensity," and on the flip side, to Sinclair Lewis's Babbitt, a realtor who, in a fit of self-love, ties his sense of personal authenticity to his profession. It's possible to find Garber precious, but difficult to blame her for this quality, since it appears to be a necessary element of her attempt to unify two seemingly disparate topics. Consider, for example, the long section about Garber's personal experience with the Historical Commission of Cambridge, Massachusetts, and its strictures on what colors are permissible for the houses under its jurisdiction. The narrative is fresh and lively, but one does tend to wonder about a Harvard professor spendingherdays considering the social implications of Colonial Yellow and Essex Green. Then Garber relates these nitpicky issues to the question of nostalgia (which means homesickness), and a method emerges from the madness. An inventive, erudite analysis from a scholar and homeowner.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307773975
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 12/15/2010
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 256
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Marjorie Garber is a professor at Harvard University. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

From the Trade Paperback edition.
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Table of Contents

Introduction: Sex and Real Estate 3
1 The House as Beloved 25
2 The House as Mother 48
3 The House as Body 71
4 The Dream House 100
5 The Trophy House 120
6 The House as History 150
7 The Summer House 181
Epilogue: Why We Love Houses 205
Notes 209
Index 231
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 7, 2001

    Not alone

    I thought I was the only one who so enjoyed the surprising parallels of buying a house and falling in love as well as the absurd similarities between of primping a home for an 'open house' and preparing for a big night out. A rare, insightful dig which I found fascinating. One point, however: this is much more academic than I initially thought it would be, and while I enjoyed the challenge and the insight into 19th century art history, I must admit I lost the initial blush I felt when I thought the author was sharing her secret with me. It became more pedantic than I wished, which is not necessarily a bad thing, just a very particular thing. All in all, a great gift for the realtor with both a literary eye and a sense of humor.

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