All the Way Home: Building a Family in a Falling-Down House

4.04 avg rating
( 717 ratings by Goodreads )
 
9780061362873: All the Way Home: Building a Family in a Falling-Down House

With the lyrics of a Replacements song running through his head ("Look me in the eye, then tell me that I'm satisfied"), David Giffels—with his wife and infant son in tow—combs the environs of Akron, Ohio, in search of the perfect house for his burgeoning family. The quest ends at the front door of a beautiful but decaying Gilded Age mansion, the once-grand former residence of a rubber-industry executive. It lacks functional plumbing and electricity, leaks rain like a cartoon shack, and is infested with all manner of wildlife. But for a young father at a coming-of-age crossroads, the challenge is precisely the allure.

All the Way Home is Giffels's funny, poignant, and confounding journey through the great adventure of restoring a crumbling house on the way to discovering what the words "grown up" and "home" really mean.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

David Giffels is an assistant professor of English at the University of Akron, where he teaches creative nonfiction. Formerly an award-winning columnist for the Akron Beacon Journal and a contributing commentator on NPR, his writing has appeared in the New York Times Magazine and many other publications. He lives in Akron, Ohio, with his wife and two children.

From The Washington Post:

Reviewed by Belle Elving

Well-tended houses are all alike. Every ruined house is ruined in its own way.

Two new memoirs about extreme fixer-uppers illustrate this point. Each will appeal to those who like stories of real estate gone wrong, with plenty of rotting plaster, curling linoleum and basement beams chewed to powder by termites. But amid the wreckage, the books also reveal as much about the interior needs of their authors as they do about the houses they rescue.

David Giffels, a columnist for the Akron Beacon Journal and a former writer for "Beavis and Butt-Head," needed a larger house for his wife and baby. But instead of taking the easy path and buying a tract house with a manageable mortgage, Giffels gave his heart -- and years of his life -- to a tumbledown turn-of-the-century mansion in a city sunk under hard times. His memoir, All the Way Home, is not only a chronicle of this renovation but also an homage to Akron, Ohio, and an affirmation of his place in it.

The details of ruin are delicious. The once-grand house was built by a rubber executive during the Gilded Age. But when Giffels bought it a decade ago, it was struggling just to stand, vines prying apart its brick walls and decay eating the wood out of the window frames. One upstairs bedroom floor was lined wall to wall with aluminum roasting pans set there to catch water from the nearly useless roof. Most of the electrical outlets were dead, the pipes were corroded, and the boiler in the basement spewed streams of water at the fuse box.

The author's D.I.Y. skills, like his toolbox and budget, were no match for the challenge. But what he lacked in experience and financial resources he made up for in hubris and in sheer determination to salvage, scavenge, improvise and prevail. But over what?

Giffels is a man deeply in love with his hometown and its history. He has paid tribute to it in two previous books: Wheels of Fortune, about the glory days of rubber production in Akron during the 19th century and Are We Not Men? We are Devo!, about the emergence of the band Devo at Kent State in the '70s. He's had a job offer in New York City and felt the lure of Los Angeles but remained rooted in place, upholding his local paper. He can't make Akron into the Big Time -- or even into what it once was -- but he can shore up a piece of its fading glory, with his bare hands.

But as the renovation project began to consume weekends, savings and marital good will, it became a mirror for self-discovery, and what it reflects is not always flattering. Giffels's determination swelled to obsession, keeping at bay other responsibilities and connections in his life -- friends, family, marriage and fatherhood. One low point, among many: Giffels on a clammy basement floor at midnight, scraping decades of paint off kitchen hinges while his wife lies alone upstairs, worried about miscarriage.

Gradually, as the house revived, Giffels began to recognize his folly. Toward the end of the book, he quotes a family proverb: "It's only finished when you sell it or you die." And in the meantime, other things, like reading his son a story at bedtime, matter more.

Home Girl: Building a Dream House on a Lawless Block is less about the house and more about the block and is as likely to appeal to social activists as to serial renovators.

After more than 20 years as a foreign correspondent covering such places as Rwanda, Chechnya, Colombia and Sudan, Judith Matloff was ready to unpack and call someplace home. Newly married and with her biological clock ticking, she left her journalist husband alone in Moscow to find them a house in her hometown of New York City. Intrepid by nature and toughened by experience, Matloff followed the classifieds to the only neighborhood in Manhattan she considered suitably vibrant and affordable: West Harlem, which in 2000 was an essentially ungovernable area caught in the crossfire between Dominican and African American drug dealers. Just 20 blocks to the south, a "new Harlem renaissance" had brought shops, cafes, real estate agents and, soon, Bill Clinton's post-presidential office. But none of that had yet reached 145th Street.

By any standard of prudence, Matloff's decision to buy a once stately 1888 row house there was reckless. But after breezing past the Romanesque façade, six fireplaces, four bathrooms, chandeliers and cast-iron tubs, she offered cash -- on the spot. She even prevailed over another bidder in $10,000 increments, getting what seemed to her a steal at $200,000. All hers, then, were 4,860 square feet of decay, where squatters, termites and plumbing leaks had ripped out or ruined the fine old wainscoting and high plaster ceilings. She had barely paused to notice the crack dealers leaning on her front gate, syringes tossed in a corner of the backyard and the lingering stench of men behaving badly in stairwells.

There are chapters that slog through the fixing of this, but Matloff's real interest was less in restoring the house than in feeling at home. And for her, doing that seemed to entail seeking out the most perilous place in Manhattan to live. With barely a second thought, she exchanged Chechnyan militants for crackheads, Colombian drug lords for knife-wielding street thugs. Her tough exterior softens when she describes her emotions after the fall of the World Trade Center: grief mixed with jealousy and depression about being home with a baby, away from the action. But at least she can say she has gone to the edge, and made a nest there.


Copyright 2008, The Washington Post. All Rights Reserved.

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

Top Search Results from the AbeBooks Marketplace

1.

Giffels, David
ISBN 10: 0061362875 ISBN 13: 9780061362873
New Paperback Quantity Available: 9
Seller
Big River Books
(Powder Springs, GA, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Paperback. Book Condition: New. Brand New! We ship daily Monday - Friday!. Bookseller Inventory # 1EYDQW00034J

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
3.88
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: 2.69
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

2.

David Giffels
ISBN 10: 0061362875 ISBN 13: 9780061362873
New Quantity Available: > 20
Seller
BWB
(Valley Stream, NY, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Book Condition: New. Depending on your location, this item may ship from the US or UK. Bookseller Inventory # 97800613628730000000

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
7.96
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

3.

Giffels, David
ISBN 10: 0061362875 ISBN 13: 9780061362873
New Quantity Available: > 20
Seller
Paperbackshop-US
(Wood Dale, IL, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description 2009. PAP. Book Condition: New. New Book. Shipped from US within 10 to 14 business days. Established seller since 2000. Bookseller Inventory # VC-9780061362873

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
5.83
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: 3.07
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

4.

David Giffels
Published by HarperCollins Publishers Inc, United States (2009)
ISBN 10: 0061362875 ISBN 13: 9780061362873
New Paperback Quantity Available: 1
Seller
The Book Depository
(London, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description HarperCollins Publishers Inc, United States, 2009. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book. With the lyrics of a Replacements song running through his head ( Look me in the eye, then tell me that I m satisfied ), David Giffels--with his wife and infant son in tow--combs the environs of Akron, Ohio, in search of the perfect house for his burgeoning family. The quest ends at the front door of a beautiful but decaying Gilded Age mansion, the once-grand former residence of a rubber-industry executive. It lacks functional plumbing and electricity, leaks rain like a cartoon shack, and is infested with all manner of wildlife. But for a young father at a coming-of-age crossroads, the challenge is precisely the allure. All the Way Home is Giffels s funny, poignant, and confounding journey through the great adventure of restoring a crumbling house on the way to discovering what the words grown up and home really mean. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780061362873

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
9.07
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

5.

David Giffels
Published by HarperCollins Publishers Inc, United States (2009)
ISBN 10: 0061362875 ISBN 13: 9780061362873
New Paperback Quantity Available: 1
Seller
The Book Depository US
(London, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description HarperCollins Publishers Inc, United States, 2009. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book. With the lyrics of a Replacements song running through his head ( Look me in the eye, then tell me that I m satisfied ), David Giffels--with his wife and infant son in tow--combs the environs of Akron, Ohio, in search of the perfect house for his burgeoning family. The quest ends at the front door of a beautiful but decaying Gilded Age mansion, the once-grand former residence of a rubber-industry executive. It lacks functional plumbing and electricity, leaks rain like a cartoon shack, and is infested with all manner of wildlife. But for a young father at a coming-of-age crossroads, the challenge is precisely the allure. All the Way Home is Giffels s funny, poignant, and confounding journey through the great adventure of restoring a crumbling house on the way to discovering what the words grown up and home really mean. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780061362873

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
9.40
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

6.

Giffels, David
ISBN 10: 0061362875 ISBN 13: 9780061362873
New Quantity Available: > 20
Seller
Pbshop
(Wood Dale, IL, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description 2009. PAP. Book Condition: New. New Book.Shipped from US within 10 to 14 business days. Established seller since 2000. Bookseller Inventory # IB-9780061362873

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
6.39
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: 3.07
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

7.

David Giffels
Published by HarperCollins Publishers Inc, United States (2009)
ISBN 10: 0061362875 ISBN 13: 9780061362873
New Paperback Quantity Available: 10
Seller
Book Depository hard to find
(London, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description HarperCollins Publishers Inc, United States, 2009. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. With the lyrics of a Replacements song running through his head ( Look me in the eye, then tell me that I m satisfied ), David Giffels--with his wife and infant son in tow--combs the environs of Akron, Ohio, in search of the perfect house for his burgeoning family. The quest ends at the front door of a beautiful but decaying Gilded Age mansion, the once-grand former residence of a rubber-industry executive. It lacks functional plumbing and electricity, leaks rain like a cartoon shack, and is infested with all manner of wildlife. But for a young father at a coming-of-age crossroads, the challenge is precisely the allure. All the Way Home is Giffels s funny, poignant, and confounding journey through the great adventure of restoring a crumbling house on the way to discovering what the words grown up and home really mean. Bookseller Inventory # BTE9780061362873

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
9.54
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

8.

Giffels, David
Published by Harper Collins Publishers
ISBN 10: 0061362875 ISBN 13: 9780061362873
New Quantity Available: > 20
Seller
INDOO
(Avenel, NJ, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Harper Collins Publishers. Book Condition: New. Brand New. Bookseller Inventory # 0061362875

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
6.91
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: 2.69
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

9.

Giffels, David
ISBN 10: 0061362875 ISBN 13: 9780061362873
New Paperback Quantity Available: > 20
Seller
BargainBookStores
(Grand Rapids, MI, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # 810669

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
6.99
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: 3.07
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

10.

Giffels, David
Published by William Morrow Paperbacks (2009)
ISBN 10: 0061362875 ISBN 13: 9780061362873
New Paperback Quantity Available: 15
Seller
Murray Media
(North Miami Beach, FL, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description William Morrow Paperbacks, 2009. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # 0061362875

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
8.75
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: 2.30
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

There are more copies of this book

View all search results for this book