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Home Girl: Building a Dream House on a…
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Home Girl: Building a Dream House on a Lawless Block (édition 2008)

par Judith Matloff (Auteur)

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13963153,532 (3.68)19
After twenty years as a foreign correspondent in tumultuous locales including Rwanda, Chechnya, and Sudan, Judith Matloff is ready to put down roots and start a family. She leaves Moscow and returns to her native New York City to house-hunt for the perfect spot while her Dutch husband, John, stays behind in Russia with their dog to pack up their belongings. Intoxicated by West Harlem’s cultural diversity and, more important, its affordability, Judith impulsively buys a stately fixer-upper brownstone in the neighborhood. Little does she know what’s in store. Judith and John discover that their dream house was once a crack den and that “fixer upper” is an understatement. The building is a total wreck: The beams have been chewed to dust by termites, the staircase is separating from the wall, and the windows are smashed thanks to a recent break-in. Plus, the house–crowded with throngs of brazen drug dealers–forms the bustling epicenter of the cocaine trade in the Northeast, and heavily armed police regularly appear outside their door in pursuit of the thugs and crackheads who loiter there. Thus begins Judith and John’s odyssey to win over the neighbors, including Salami, the menacing addict who threatens to take over their house; MacKenzie, the literary homeless man who quotes Latin over morning coffee; Mrs. LaDuke, the salty octogenarian and neighborhood watchdog; and Miguel, the smooth lieutenant of the local drug crew, with whom the couple must negotiate safe passage. It’s a far cry from utopia, but it’s a start, and they do all they can to carve out a comfortable life. And by the time they experience the birth of a son, Judith and John have even come to appreciate the neighborhood’s rough charms. Blending her finely honed reporter’s instincts with superb storytelling, Judith Matloff has crafted a wry, reflective, and hugely entertaining memoir about community, home, and real estate.Home Girlis for anyone who has ever longed to go home, however complicated the journey. Advance Praise for Home Girl “Although I always suspected that renovating a house in New York City would be a slightly more harrowing undertaking than dodging bullets as a foreign correspondent, it took this charming story to convince me it could also be more entertaining. Except for the plumbing. That’s one adventure I couldn't survive.” –Michelle Slatalla, author ofThe Town on Beaver Creek “After years of covering wars overseas, Judith Matloff takes her boundless courage and inimitable style to the front lines of America’s biggest city. From her vantage point in a former crack house in West Harlem, she brings life to a proud community held hostage by drug dealers and forgotten by policy makers. Matloff’s sense of humor, clear reportage, and zest for adventure never fail. Home Girl is part gritty confessional, part love story, and totally delightful.” –Bob Drogin, author ofCurveball “Here the American dream of home ownership takes on the epic dimensions of the modern pioneer in a drug-riddled land. Matloff’s story, which had me crying and laughing, is a portrait of a household and a community, extending far beyond the specifics of West Harlem to the universal–as all well-told stories do.” –Martha McPhee, author ofL’America From the Hardcover edition.… (plus d'informations)
Membre:AzureMountain
Titre:Home Girl: Building a Dream House on a Lawless Block
Auteurs:Judith Matloff (Auteur)
Info:Random House (2008), Edition: 1, 306 pages
Collections:Votre bibliothèque, On Loan
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Home Girl: Building a Dream House on a Lawless Block par Judith Matloff

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» Voir aussi les 19 mentions

Affichage de 1-5 de 65 (suivant | tout afficher)
Cette critique a été écrite dans le cadre des Critiques en avant-première de LibraryThing.
I received this book as an early review copy and in the process of my own move, lost it. I could have faked a review and been done with it, and then continued to have access to the early review copies, but that is not how I work. I needed to read the book to write the review. Finally, the other day while cleaning out some stored boxes, I found it. Finally. Yay! I've been looking for it for years now.

Home Girl was mostly an enjoyable read. Matloff's writing has a decent flow and her prose is down to earth but the story itself has an odd unbalanced feel to it.

I've not traveled the world like she has, but I've been to Rio and Sao Paulo. I've lived in neighborhoods much like she wrote about in Home Girl with the local drug dealers working the corner across the street and colorful characters next door or down the block. I even had a character living next door that was much like the Salami in her book.

From both a sociology standpoint, and a nostalgic one, I loved her descriptions of the neighbors, the neighborhood and it's colorful denizens. But aspects of her story bother me. I felt that sometimes she wrote dispassionately and lacked any emotional connection, then further on would attempt to remedy it. That sort of shift felt very disjointed as if she added parts later to present herself as more compassionate. Unfortunately, I wasn't convinced. Those parts of the story felt very disingenuous to me. I begin to feel that she was obsessed with the house and didn't care much about anything else, and by the end, I didn't really like the author as much as I would have liked.

We don't always have to like the protagonist, but in a memoir, it helps if we're emotionally invested somehow. Matloff's journalism background served her well in writing a book that detailed the social shift in the culture of drugs and community gentrification and it's very possible that her journalistic objectivity was what kept her from being able to write in a way that fully engaged the reader. But ultimately, the book was very readable and did have great moments.

(I would like to add that this in no way means I think the author is unlikeable in any way. It just means that, by the end of the book, the sense of self Matloff conveyed was distant and I didn't feel any emotional connection to her at all.)

If you do read the book though here is Matloff's site with a video of her home and some of the faces from her book. http://www.judithmatloff.com/video.html

I think photos added would have helped ground the story. There might be photos in the later editions, I don't know. I have only the review copy. ( )
2 voter zimbeline | May 17, 2011 |
Cette critique a été écrite dans le cadre des Critiques en avant-première de LibraryThing.
A poignant, honest portrayal of a woman searching for home, Home Girl is an intriguing if sometimes wandering, snapshot of a ex-pat putting down roots. She doesn't candy-coat, and I think that is what keeps the majority of the memoir from becoming trite. A good read. ( )
  amandaking | Apr 4, 2011 |
Cette critique a été écrite dans le cadre des Critiques en avant-première de LibraryThing.
The one thing that bothered me the most about this book was that I really had no sense of her husband. She worried about his reaction to the house, but it was glossed over. Almost anything having to do with her husband was glossed over. It was interesting to read her take on the neighborhood activities and the inevitable gentrification. ( )
  emcelroy | Feb 27, 2010 |
Cette critique a été écrite dans le cadre des Critiques en avant-première de LibraryThing.
I had a difficult time staying engaged with this story because it tended to wander a bit and get bogged down in tedium. However, I did enjoy reading about the history of the area and Matloff's journey to home ownership. ( )
  curiouschild | Feb 5, 2010 |
Cette critique a été écrite dans le cadre des Critiques en avant-première de LibraryThing.
I really enjoyed following the author while she found a home and renovated it. It was an interesting read in watch what and where you are buying when looking for a house to buy. It was interesting to read after watching so many house buying stories on TV.
Her obstacles were incredible as she works on trying to make this house into a real home. I sometimes had trouble believing all the problems. Overall it was an interesting read. ( )
  hope3957 | Jan 10, 2010 |
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After twenty years as a foreign correspondent in tumultuous locales including Rwanda, Chechnya, and Sudan, Judith Matloff is ready to put down roots and start a family. She leaves Moscow and returns to her native New York City to house-hunt for the perfect spot while her Dutch husband, John, stays behind in Russia with their dog to pack up their belongings. Intoxicated by West Harlem’s cultural diversity and, more important, its affordability, Judith impulsively buys a stately fixer-upper brownstone in the neighborhood. Little does she know what’s in store. Judith and John discover that their dream house was once a crack den and that “fixer upper” is an understatement. The building is a total wreck: The beams have been chewed to dust by termites, the staircase is separating from the wall, and the windows are smashed thanks to a recent break-in. Plus, the house–crowded with throngs of brazen drug dealers–forms the bustling epicenter of the cocaine trade in the Northeast, and heavily armed police regularly appear outside their door in pursuit of the thugs and crackheads who loiter there. Thus begins Judith and John’s odyssey to win over the neighbors, including Salami, the menacing addict who threatens to take over their house; MacKenzie, the literary homeless man who quotes Latin over morning coffee; Mrs. LaDuke, the salty octogenarian and neighborhood watchdog; and Miguel, the smooth lieutenant of the local drug crew, with whom the couple must negotiate safe passage. It’s a far cry from utopia, but it’s a start, and they do all they can to carve out a comfortable life. And by the time they experience the birth of a son, Judith and John have even come to appreciate the neighborhood’s rough charms. Blending her finely honed reporter’s instincts with superb storytelling, Judith Matloff has crafted a wry, reflective, and hugely entertaining memoir about community, home, and real estate.Home Girlis for anyone who has ever longed to go home, however complicated the journey. Advance Praise for Home Girl “Although I always suspected that renovating a house in New York City would be a slightly more harrowing undertaking than dodging bullets as a foreign correspondent, it took this charming story to convince me it could also be more entertaining. Except for the plumbing. That’s one adventure I couldn't survive.” –Michelle Slatalla, author ofThe Town on Beaver Creek “After years of covering wars overseas, Judith Matloff takes her boundless courage and inimitable style to the front lines of America’s biggest city. From her vantage point in a former crack house in West Harlem, she brings life to a proud community held hostage by drug dealers and forgotten by policy makers. Matloff’s sense of humor, clear reportage, and zest for adventure never fail. Home Girl is part gritty confessional, part love story, and totally delightful.” –Bob Drogin, author ofCurveball “Here the American dream of home ownership takes on the epic dimensions of the modern pioneer in a drug-riddled land. Matloff’s story, which had me crying and laughing, is a portrait of a household and a community, extending far beyond the specifics of West Harlem to the universal–as all well-told stories do.” –Martha McPhee, author ofL’America From the Hardcover edition.

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