Going to bizarre extremes to buy

Book Review: 'Gimme Shelter'

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Half of the anxiety involved in buying a home is the not knowing whether the twists, turns and dramas of your personal home-buying odyssey are normal or cause for alarm. Equal parts inspiration, commiseration and manual of how-to and what not to do, "Gimme Shelter" by Mary Elizabeth Williams relates the author's own three-year house (and mortgage) hunt. And we're talking about a house hunt that was as complicated, drawn out and exasperating as the subtitle suggests: Ugly houses, cruddy neighborhoods, fast-talking brokers, and toxic mortgages: My three years searching for the American dream. Williams, a mom, writer and cultural critic, manages to bring hindsight humor to a home-buying process that was likely very unfunny when it was taking place. She intertwines her smartly sarcastic retelling of the trials of locating a suitable New York City-area home in her family's price range with the stories of relatives and friends who were also trying to break into the pre-...