This piece began in the heat of a real-life dilemma: the real-estate market tanked and I was stuck with a house in Columbus, Ohio, long after I moved to Georgia. Neurosis and anxiety demanded that I think of every possible way to get rid of the darn house, and as I became more desperate, I became willing to sell it even for scrap materials. Luckily it sold (finally) after a year on the market. I used this essay to joke about some real-life challenges, including the fact that someone broke into the vacant house and stole all the copper plumbing. The idea of real estate "investment" was a good target, because I will never, ever, ever again believe the idea that owning a huge chunk of earth, boards, and wiring is a good investment for me personally. I'm interested in the problem of what to call this. Some have called these kinds of essays "lyric" or "speculative" because they are rooted in the real but are clearly a product of the writers' imagination. It seems like there's a link to what happens in the madness and hyperbole of prose poetry. The terminology attached to this kind of stuff (see McSweeney's for much more of it) drives a lot of people to extreme irritational -- why not just call it fiction? You, my good friend, can call it fiction if you want to, and I won't mind. I've written fiction, too, and I will say for myself that this feels different, because the exaggeration sounds like me -- in my real life and my real voice -- I complain and obsess to excess and then for sheer enjoyment. I do know that I resist calling it fiction because -- although I'd like it to be completely untrue -- this exactly captures the state of mind and range of options I contemplated.
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"Real Estate Downturn,"
Harlot: A Revealing Look at the Arts of Persuasion: