“If I hadn’t had this outlet—getting this relocation nightmare down on paper and exposing all the idiocy that made it possible—I may have snapped long ago,” says the author, whose previous book was a biography of his grandfather, a Vaudeville and Borscht Belt entertainer. “As I say in the book, sometimes what my wife and I went through was a Marx Brothers comedy and other times it was a Shakespearean tragedy. But even when it was a comedy, it sure as hell wasn’t funny.”
The book, however, is funny—by many accounts hysterically so—because Samberg decided that humor is the best way to reveal the true face of all the lunacy that’s involved in selling and buying a house. He may be right, because “I Would Rather Have Root Canal...” has been earning some terrific reader comments:
• “I sympathize with the author’s problems and really enjoyed the book. What really gets me are the stupid laws that make it unbelievably difficult to buy and sell a house. Joel drives this home in a humorous way—just look at the book’s title. As my TV alter ego would say, “I wanna clobber those lawmakers.”
-Ken Osmond (Eddie Haskel on ‘Leave it to Beaver”), Los Angeles, CA
• “I found Joel’s true story hilariously funny and chock full of comical twists and turns. It’s a must-read for every home buyer, owner, renter, or even the homeless, whose only bright spot in life is the fact that they don’t have to deal with selling or buying a home.”
-Irene Levine, North Bellmore, NY
• “An easy, short and frightening read—and when I was done I sent Joel and Bonnie Samberg a gift certificate for Dunkin Donuts. I guess you’ll have to read the book to see why.”
-Jeanine Kasun, Los Angeles, CA
Real-life characters in Samberg’s nonfiction horror story included real estate agents, real estate attorneys, home inspectors, mortgage brokers, appraisers, bankers and many others who, in the author’s words, were callous, clueless and ineffectual. “These are people who broke promises, made outrageous statements, created divisiveness and generally turned the process into an unbearable nightmare.”
As part of his initial marketing efforts, Samberg tried to get real estate agents to comment on the book, but was turned down time after time; he was even unceremoniously banned from an online agent forum after trying to promote the book. “Home inspectors and mortgage brokers will despise it too, I expect,” he adds. “But one of the reasons they’ll be uncomfortable is because they’ll recognize how the things that happened to me happen to too many people too much of the time.”
At one point while planning the book Samberg debated whether or not to make it a how-to or instructional guide to selling and buying a house. But ultimately he decided to let the story itself be the lesson. For example, he and his wife were very trusting and accepted what other people told them without doing any research on their own. So there’s a primary lesson, he says: “Don’t trust what anyone tells you; assume that what you’re told is a bunch of crap that must be carefully weighed, debated and evaluated; and don’t be as stupid and naive as we were.”
Joel Samberg’s feature articles, essays and columns have appeared in many regional publications, including Hartford Magazine, The Hartford Business Journal, The New York Daily News, New Jersey Monthly, New Jersey Savvy Living Magazine, The New Manhattan Review, The Connecticut Jewish Ledger, The Staten Island Advance and others. He is the author of several nonfiction books, including “Reel Jewish: A Century of Jewish Movies” (Jonathan David, 2000) and “Grandpa Had a Long One: Personal Notes on the Life, Career & Legacy of Benny Bell” (BearManor Media, 2009). On behalf of his books, Joel has appeared at more than three dozen film festivals, book fairs and community centers coast to coast, as well as on several radio and cable TV shows.
He has also entertained at senior communities across the country, providing movie trivia and anecdotes, and several of his short plays have been performed in New York, including “Six Tens from a Fifty,” produced by the Love Creek Theatre Company.
Joel is a graduate of Hofstra University, where he studied journalism and theatre, and currently lives in Connecticut with his wife, Bonnie, with whom he has three grown children.