"A room of one's own: is there anybody who hasn't at one time or another wished for such a place, hasn't turned those soft words over until they'd assumed a habitable shape?"
When writer Michael Pollan decided to plant a garden, the result was an award-winning treatise on the borders between nature and contemporary life, the acclaimed bestseller Second Nature. Now Pollan turns his sharp insight to the craft of building, as he recounts the process of designing and constructing a small one-room structure on his rural Connecticut property--a place in which he hoped to read, write and daydream, built with his two own unhandy hands.
Invoking the titans of architecture, literature and philosophy, from Vitrivius to Thoreau, from the Chinese masters of feng shui to the revolutionary Frank Lloyd Wright, Pollan brilliantly chronicles a realm of blueprints, joints and trusses as he peers into the ephemeral nature of "houseness" itself. From the spark of an idea to the search for a perfect site to the raising of a ridgepole, Pollan revels in the infinitely detailed, complex process of creating a finished structure. At once superbly written, informative and enormously entertaining, A Place of My Own is for anyone who has ever wondered how the walls around us take shape--and how we might shape them ourselves.
A Place of My Own recounts his two-and-a-half-year journey of discovery in an absorbing narrative that deftly weaves the day-to-day work of design and building--from siting to blueprint, from the pouring of foundations to finish carpentry--with reflections on everything form the power of place to shape our lives to the question of what constitutes "real work" in a technological society.
A book about craft that is itself beautifully crafted, linking the world of the body and material things with the realm of mind, heart, and spirit, A Place of My Own has received extraordinary praise: -->
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Michael Pollan's A Place of My Own
might be suspiciously viewed by some readers as a text begging for interpretation. What is it that causes this man at midlife to attempt to put up a structure, an actual wood and concrete dwelling, where he can work on his own craft away from his domestic life? Arguably, Pollan's intentions are more transparent than a too clever postmodern audience can easily appreciate. The author of this fine, well-crafted book offers an explanation that seems honest and understandable: "Whenever I heard myself described as an 'information service worker' or a 'symbolic analyst,' I wanted to reach for a hammer, or a hoe, and with it make something less virtual than a sentence."
In Pollan's bestselling book Second Nature: A Gardener's Education, he illustrated his facility with both hoe and pen. In A Place of My Own he hefts the hammer and again records with great intelligence how thoroughly thought and reflection can be woven into our common lives and the patterns of a day's work. His book's subtitle, "An Education of an Amateur Builder," captures much of what this book contains: the lessons learned by a diligent student of architecture, design, and construction. The writing contains no gaps or unsightly seams, and it's full of clues to readers who share a similar desire to build something tangible in a world that prizes the evanescent.