Cabin: Two Brothers, a Dream, and Five Acres in Maine

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Inspired by his From the Ground Up New York Times blog, a beautifully written memoir about building and brotherhood.

Confronted with the disappointments and knockdowns that can come in middle age-job loss, the death of his mother, a health scare, a divorce-Lou Ureneck needed a project that would engage the better part of him and put him back in life's good graces. City-bound for a decade, Lou decided he needed to build a simple post-and-beam cabin in the woods. He bought five ...

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Cabin: Two Brothers, a Dream, and Five Acres in Maine

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Overview

Inspired by his From the Ground Up New York Times blog, a beautifully written memoir about building and brotherhood.

Confronted with the disappointments and knockdowns that can come in middle age-job loss, the death of his mother, a health scare, a divorce-Lou Ureneck needed a project that would engage the better part of him and put him back in life's good graces. City-bound for a decade, Lou decided he needed to build a simple post-and-beam cabin in the woods. He bought five acres in the hills of western Maine and asked his younger brother, Paul, to help him.

Twenty years earlier the brothers had built a house together. Now Lou saw working with Paul as a way to reconnect with their shared history and to rediscover his truest self. As the brothers-with the help of Paul's sons-undertake the challenging construction, nothing seems to go according to plan. But as they raise the cabin, Ureneck eloquently reveals his own evolving insights into the richness and complexity of family relationships, the healing power of nature, and the need to root oneself in a place one can call home. With its exploration of the satisfaction of building and of physical labor, Cabin will also appeal to readers of Robert Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Matthew Crawford's Shop Class as Soulcraft, and Tracy Kidder's House.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Ureneck is no stranger to the outdoors: his first book, Backcast: Fatherhood, Flyfishing and a River Journey Through the Heart of Alaska, was a satisfying and illuminating look at the connections between internal and external landscapes. This follow-up is a continuation of Ureneck's personal journey that will thoroughly satisfy fans of his earlier work. Following a job loss, a divorce, his mother's death, and other bouts of "coming to terms with being the generation within the family that stood between the children and death," Ureneck decides to build a cabin on a piece of "rugged Maine hillside" and make it "my own in the way that the landscape of my boyhood had been my own." Enlisting his brother Paul, an experienced builder, to help with the construction, Ureneck spends two seasons building his simple cabin, and his detailed, almost day-by-day account of that time deftly combines the physical ("Post and beam carpentry owns a vocabulary every bit as rich and arcane as that of nineteenth-century seamanship"), the philosophical ("Has the departure of nature from our lives impaired our ability to make moral decisions?"), and the familial ("When you get around to reassembling your life... it's good to have someone at your side who remembers how the parts once fit together. (Sept.)
Kirkus Reviews

A modern-day Walden with a midlife twist.

"I had been city-bound for nearly a decade, dealing with the usual knockdowns and disappointments of middle-age," writes Ureneck (Journalism/Boston Univ.; Backcast: Fatherhood, Fly-fishing, and a River Journey Through the Heart of Alaska, 2007). "The notion of building a cabin—a boy's dream really—seemed a way to get a purchase on life's next turn." The author was not consciously attempting a Thoreauvian experiment in self-sufficiency. Rather, he was trying to save himself from the wreckage—a painful divorce, the loss of his mother and uncles to death and disease and a major career change—of a life gone awry. Loneliness and despair threatened to engulf him; the only family members who remained were his two grown children, both of whom lived apart from him and his younger brother Paul, a man absorbed by his own trials. Heartsick and confused, he bought a piece of land in the woods of western Maine. There, Ureneck, along with his brother and his brother's sons, spent the latter part of 2008 and all of 2009 constructing the cabin, "employing, as much as possible, old-fashioned wood joinery rather than nails." At first, this "experiment in mental health" was the author's way to enjoy the two things that had been constants in an otherwise fragmented life: Paul's company and a love of the natural world. But as the project evolved, Ureneck realized that the cabin-building process—selecting the timber to use in construction; digging and laying in the foundations; assembling the wood pieces together; securing the final structure both inside and out—was allowing him to not only confront and resolve issues from his past, but also giving him the opportunity to build a mature relationship with a beloved brother he felt he had let down in youth.

Ureneck's story is simple, but it rewards abundantly by affirming the unexpected possibilities for renewal that life offers.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780670022946
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 9/15/2011
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 8.50 (w) x 5.82 (h) x 0.98 (d)

Meet the Author


Lou Ureneck is a journalism professor at Boston University and a former newspaper editor at the Portland Press Herald in Maine and the Philadelphia Inquirer. His first book, Backcast: Fatherhood, Fly- fishing, and a River Journey Through the Heart of Alaska, received the 2007 National Outdoor Book Award. He lives in Boston and near Bethel, Maine.
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Table of Contents

1 The Urge to Build 1

2 Preliminaries 36

3 Lost Landscape 81

4 Foundation 95

5 Brothers 115

6 The Frame 130

7 Summer Work 161

8 Responsibilities 217

9 Thanksgiving 224

Epilogue: Dreaming of Apples 236

Acknowledgments 241

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 13 )
Rating Distribution

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(12)

4 Star

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Sort by: Showing all of 13 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 4, 2012

    Recommend

    Good story of an retired newspaper editor and college professor nearing the end of his career. His children are grown and his marriage failed. He finds solace building a cabin on property in Maine. The book covers everything from the history of the area, a discussion of nature, building a cabin in the woods and reflecting on his youth, past life and family.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2014

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 24, 2013

    K

    &#9829

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 9, 2013

    Zach

    AGE 17 HEIGHT 5'8 WEIGHT 170 LOOKS Dark bro hair shaggy grey green eyes. Tall athletic. PERSONALITY calm thoutful protective.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 8, 2013

    B

    Name- Tori

    Age- 14

    Appearance- Waist long dirty blond hair, blue-gray eyes

    Height- 5' 6"

    Anything you should know about me-
    I'm smart, I rp a lot, I have 2 brothers
    I know about $€}{
    I have lots of friends, and I'm straight.

    Thanks for reading. I'll be here.

    -tori

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 8, 2013

    Meghan

    Name: Meghan Age: 22 Apperance: 5' 7 105 pounds long black hair and snow colored skin with green eyes Other description: very sexy and doesnt like to rush into things always wears a bikini

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 5, 2012

    Haley

    She stumbles in

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 8, 2013

    Lindsey

    Name:Lindsey Carson Age:17 Looks: blond ombred hair indigo eyes lomg legs tan skin perfect smile long eyelashes hourglass figure. Wears: a tight black or red dress with black or red heels and black or red belt or a zebra bikini and stillettos. Likes:Sweet guys that treat her like a princess, Cookie dough Ice cream, Guitars, to sing, t dance. Dislikes: pretty much nothing Height: 5'6" weight:180 status:single Gender: female Personality: Sweet compassionate sassy a bear in the morningz perfectionest.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 4, 2012

    Aimmi

    A little 13 yr old that weighs 40 lbs appears

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 4, 2012

    Chad

    Hell weakling

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 4, 2012

    ruby

    She stumbles and than stands up.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 4, 2012

    Amy

    "Brb. In ten-twenty. Ill be back i promise" she said winking

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 22, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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