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Good House: Building a Life on the Land
     

Good House: Building a Life on the Land

by Richard Manning, Grove Press (Other)
 
A Good House is a chronicle of the year in which Manning set out to build his house and rebuild his life. Combining entertaining tales of the cast of characters who helped him build; practical information about wiring, roofing, and plumbing; and meditations on the struggle to integrate environmental and spiritual values into everyday life, this is a book about

Overview

A Good House is a chronicle of the year in which Manning set out to build his house and rebuild his life. Combining entertaining tales of the cast of characters who helped him build; practical information about wiring, roofing, and plumbing; and meditations on the struggle to integrate environmental and spiritual values into everyday life, this is a book about creating a solid foundation and building up from there—in a hosue, in a family, in living a good life.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A practical, philosophical, conscientious, and richly generous version of what it takes to put together a thoughtful house, a thoughtful life."
—Louise Erdrich

"Richard Manning set out to build an aesthetically pleasing and environmentally responsible house in which to center his life with his new wife. A Good House is his story of the work, thick with information, splendidly told, solid and good like his house, and a fine read."
—William Kittredge

"An honest and winning, even profound little book. Even if you have never taken a hammer, utility knife and square in hand to install drywall … there is much to enjoy and learn from here."
The Washington Post Book World

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Newly remarried after a bitter divorce, Manning at age 40 determined to build an environmentally sensitive house with his own hands. Having found land on the edge of the Missoula Valley in Montana, his first step was to drill for water. Manning had help from friends, professionals in the building trade and casual laborers--all of them, as depicted here, distinctive characters. He leads readers on a circuitous path: topics such as tools, concrete, wood and power serve as measures of progress. In the chapter on ``Filth,'' Manning details his problems with a chemical toilet, concluding that the manufacturer's manual was too fastidious. Though he had to make compromises, Manning was satisfied with the house. Readers will be too. Photos. (Apr.)
Library Journal
Man reaches midlife, gets divorce, finds a new wife, and decides to build a house in the country. While the plot is familiar, the writing raises this above the level of most other ``country home'' chronicles. Manning, a freelance writer whose expose of timber industry practices ( Last Stand , LJ 10/1/91) cost him his newspaper job, put extensive research into his effort to produce a home in Montana that was both comfortable and relatively uninvasive to nature. Throughout the book, the reader is treated to Manning's inner musings: observations about how social pressures and material availability have affected construction methods throughout history, plumbing as a micromodel of the earth's water cycle, and cabinetwork as the neurosurgery of carpentry. The final chapter on sources contains a short, annotated list of current materials useful in planning a comfortable and environmentally friendly home. More about homebuilding than country life, this is good information for the ``planning-your-dream-home'' crowd.-- Cheryl Childress, Collegiate Sch., Richmond, Va.
Richard Manning
Well written like a good novel, it focuses on man's need for shelter on a resource-scarce planet, while also providing a blueprint for building an emotionally, physically satisfying home on a budget...[E]ncourages readers to rethink the strenghts and weaknesses of their own houses...Manning's book helped me to understand the profit-driven compromises and spiritual bankruptcy inherent in my type of house.
#&151; Fine Homebuilding
Kirkus Reviews
Journalist Manning, whose Last Stand (not reviewed) was an expos‚ of the logging industry, now turns to the story of his decision to put his conservationist principles into action by building—largely with his own hands—a house that embodied the values he's espoused in his writing. We see the process literally from the ground up—anyone who wonders how a house is put together will learn a great deal here—since Manning is fascinated by the complexities of carpentry, wiring, and plumbing, and the skills of those who do these necessary tasks. Each stage of the construction gets a separate chapter, covering not only the physical process of construction, but its history and its relationship to the ecological and conservational issues that are the author's real subject: where the lumber comes from, how hydroelectric dams affect wildlife, how much water is lost with every flush of a toilet. "Less is more" becomes a central theme throughout as Manning shows alternative ways to build a house while keeping waste and energy consumption to a minimum. And he keeps the reader aware of how the house relates to the natural setting of which it is a part—from the ground squirrels that raid his vegetable garden to the trees that feed his woodstove. Nor does he neglect the human element: nearly every chapter features a sympathetically drawn portrait of some member of his Montana community—be it dowser or banker or backhoe operator—who contributed in some way to the project. Manning combines the nuts-and-bolts concreteness of a how-to book with a lively sense of history and a genuine dedication to principle and self-reliance: this one has the potential to becomea modern American classic. (Eight pages of color and b&w photos—not seen)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780140234077
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
04/28/1994
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
264
Product dimensions:
5.38(w) x 7.96(h) x 0.58(d)

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What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
"A practical, philosophical, conscientious, and richly generous version of what it takes to put together a thoughtful house, a thoughtful life."
—Louise Erdrich

"Richard Manning set out to build an aesthetically pleasing and environmentally responsible house in which to center his life with his new wife. A Good House is his story of the work, thick with information, splendidly told, solid and good like his house, and a fine read."
—William Kittredge

"An honest and winning, even profound little book. Even if you have never taken a hammer, utility knife and square in hand to install drywall … there is much to enjoy and learn from here."
The Washington Post Book World

Meet the Author

Richard Manning is the author of Grassland, A Good House, and Last Stand, a finalist for the Sigurd F. Olson Nature Writing Award. He worked as a reporter for fifteen years, including four years at the Missoulian. A recipient of a John S. Knight Fellowship at Stanford University and a three-time winner of the Seattle Times C.B. Blethen Award for Investigative Journalism, he has also won the Audubon Society Journalism Award and the first Richard J. Margolis Award for environmental reporting. His work has appeared in a variety of magazines and newspapers, including Harper's, Audubon, Outside, Sierra, E, High Country News, and the Bloomsbury Review. Richard Manning lives in the house he built with his wife in Lolo, Montana.

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