Those with an interest in literary history should pay close attention to this real estate listing: Joyce Carol Oates’s home of 30 years is for sale.

Wonderful Contemporary Nestled on a Wooded Lot!

This unique home offers one floor living on a beautiful wooded lot. Over 3000 square feet of living space. A stylish and contemporary retreat!

I am no realtor, but I must question the wisdom of leaving out of this listing such significant facts as this home being inspiration for parts of Bellefleur and American Appetites: surely more concrete and salient data than the elusive jargon of “square footage” and “lots.”

9 Honeybrook Drive

Or wouldn’t you rather see a real estate listing such as this:

“The houses we love are relatively few in a lifetime, like the people we love; our emotional resources are limited. In each major phase of my life there was a predominant house that I admired, and idealized, from a distance; only in August 1978, house hunting in the Princeton area, did I fall in love with a house at first sight and have the opportunity to buy it—almost immediately …

It isn’t invariably true that wishes fulfilled are apt to be disillusioning. The “enchanted place” in which we live has never ceased to exert its spell on me, every day for over twenty years …

Except for the more private rooms, the walls of most of our rooms are floor-to-ceiling glass, and each room has a sliding-glass door to the outside. We’ve become accustomed to living, in a sense, outside; our former, more conventional houses would seem disorienting to us now …

There is something comforting about being surrounded by green. About watching rain like a waterfall against the domed glass of a skylight, and hearing the rain drumming by night. I am not an ascetic who works by facing a wall, but rather a romantic individual who takes comfort and nourishment from gazing for long minutes out a window, losing herself in the contemplation of trees, sky, birds, the continuous play of light and shadow on the grass. In houses constructed primarily of glass, the eye is always drawn outward, away from the interior (and away from the self); there is a fascinating panorama out there, and in here is less demanding …

Our house was designed by Phillip Sheridan Collins of Princeton, whom my husband and I never met; since then, other architects have been involved in its expansion. Two years ago my study was extended, a second skylight added and more large windows installed. Before that, we added a solarium at the rear of the house, overlooking the pond. Even as I compose this, cement is being laid for the foundation of the extension of our guest wing, itself converted from a garage.

We seem to have become Americans of the sort who continuously improve—reimagine—their property, as if pursuing an elusive dream.”

—Joyce Carol Oates, Architectural Digest, Dec. 2000

Now, that’s a listing!

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4 Comments »

  1. What a beautiful house !
    The way Joyce Carol Oates describes it is truly literary, as we are accustomed from her writings.

    I wonder why she is selling it now, it seems like losing one’s soul to sell this home.

    Does her new husband not like it ?
    Or has it become too large for old age ?

    Hm, one wonders …

    Like

  2. In her published journals, JCO said — back in the 1980s, I think — if her husband predeceased her, she would turn into another person. She is now another person. The Honeybrook house belonged to that person, in that first marriage.
    Cyrano

    Like

    • Yes Cyrano,

      she is definitely a new person now.
      I read an interview somewhere in which she said that she moved into her new house with her new husband and that this was a new phase in her life.

      Thank you for the explanation.

      Like

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