Jonathan Franzen's Dramatic Adventures in Webster Groves Real Estate: The Play!

House For Sale: One childhood home of Great American Novelist. Five BR, 1.5 bath, 3.673 sq. ft., immortalized in essay collection memorably described by the New York Times as "an odious self-portrait of the artist as a young jackass."
A new play based on Jonathan Franzen's essay "House For Sale" opens this Saturday, October 13, at the Duke on 42nd Street, a theater in New York. Actually, it's just previews; the official opening is October 24.

The essay concerns Franzen's return to Webster Groves to sell the family home after the death of his mother. It also concerns him rifling through the liquor cabinet, reminiscing about a glum trip to the Panhandle and Disney World when he was a teenager and agonizing over choosing the right Realtor.

The play, adapted and directed by Daniel Fish, promises to be more avant garde, at least judging from Fish's previous literary adaptation, of David Foster Wallace's "A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again" and the trailer, which features a series of colored light bulbs, all labeled "Jon," and a series of men's and women's voices reading Franzen's prose.

House For Sale from daniel fish on Vimeo.

St. Louisans may be interested to know that Ye Olde Franzen Homestead is in the Mary, Queen of Peace school district. Franzen and his two brothers sold it for $310,000 in 2001; it sold most recently, in 2010, for $675,000. (Perhaps being the childhood home of a "Great American Novelist," at least according to Time magazine, increased its value?) Various real estate websites have assessed its current value as anywhere between $608,000 and $769,000, though county records have it appraised as $602,700. The house, however, is not currently for sale.

(For the record, Franzen's house is pricier than the childhood homes of either T.S. Eliot or William S. Burroughs, both in the Central West End.)

And if there's still a real estate agent named Mike working in Webster? Well, Jonathan Franzen feels betrayed by you and wishes you ill.

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