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The Architect Who Couldn't Sing Paperback – November 22, 2011


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 376 pages
  • Publisher: Dog Ear Publishing, LLC (November 22, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 145750720X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1457507205
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,288,274 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Before I started architecture school, fresh out of the Navy and full of blind enthusiasm, I built (with my own hands) a small house-in-the-woods. That experience had a profound impact on my career as an architect and, later, on my compelling need to tell the story of Charlie Cadwell and his father--the architect who couldn't sing. The novel also has a real-world connection: HOUSEEDS and Enabling Structures are things that are now actually becoming available. To see how, please visit my website: houseeds.com.

Customer Reviews

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Laura J. Oliver on August 11, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
John Alt has written a first- rate debut novel combining his innate sensibility for story-telling with his training and skill as an architect. It's a love story and a fish story, the action being centered on a "fish camp" which the narrator, Charlie Cadwell, seeks out after receiving a message from his mysterious and missing father. There, he meets the beautiful and intriguing Maggie, who is a bit of a mystery herself.

The narrative illuminates the role of architecture in humanity's need to co-exist with the natural beauty of the world and protect its diverse species, but Alt weaves that theme into his plot so deftly that the reader absorbs it tangentially while riveted to a classic love story. It is an original take on that perennial favorite, "boy meets girl, falls in love with girl, and must sacrifice girl because of circumstances beyond his control." You'll have to read the book, however, to find out whether this young man is, or is not, able to bring this girl home to his heart in the end.

The "Architect Who Couldn't Sing" is a manifesto calling for innovative and environmentally- responsible building design that makes you root for love and believe that architecture may well save the world. That's quite a fish story, in a way, and like other fish tales, this is one you won't want to let get away.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Moxie Cosmos on June 8, 2012
Format: Paperback
THE ARCHITECT WHO COULDN'T SING
J.D. Alt
ISBN: 978-145750-720-5

Attracted by the themes of this novel, and expecting an intellectually stimulating read, I was pleasantly surprised to find myself quickly absorbed by a lushly detailed love story, and then a thriller of heroic moral proportions. The plot employs history, mystery and two romances. It overlays timeless yearning for family ties with a fresh professional sense of purpose.

One of the romances occurs in the past; it prompts the story. The narrator, Charlie, has lived with his grandmother in North Carolina ever since his mother drowned when he was a year old. On his 18th birthday, he learns that he has a living father who only learned about him. Charles Robert has sent Charlie a letter inviting him to his home on Bainbridge Island, in Puget Sound. Having no other plans, Charlie ventures into a new life hosted by his mother's wartime lover, a veteran of Vietnam, now an architect known as Charles McCormick, or "C.M.". Hiding from authorities for his role in an attack on a napalm plant, C.M. has built an extraordinary structure for a fish camp. The other household members are the fishing guide, Gus, and his wife Louise, who keep the camp going, and Maggie, the daughter of C.M.'s deceased friend who owned the camp and supported the noble experiment in architecture.

The visual beauty of the novel's setting is palpable as Charlie is introduced to the wilderness of trees and water and boulders; to the aesthetics and purpose of architecture; and to Maggie, expert in her environment but a risk-taking activist. The tension mounts when Charlie is challenged to present his father's revolutionary ideas at a competition.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Enjoyed your book, the blog, and the SEEDmovie on YouTube. Together, they help to envision the story in my 3-D imagination. I hope you can continue with your efforts in the Houseeds direction.

I'm wondering, though, how those concepts would scale into a "New Brasilia". I'm particularly concerned that structures and social groupings often achieve a "right size" (like the elephant in your story), but then themselves need to grow and self-organize into more complex systems, and so on, according to function.

The "Dunbar Number" suggests that cohesive, unitary societies (such as Mennonite colonies and Facebook friends) become unstable and divisive after about 150 members. Christopher Alexander suggests that a "community" that is democratically self-governed tops out at about 7000 people. "Industrialization", i.e., specialization, takes off from there.

Your writings also suggest that the attempt to provide a global view to livable, affordable, and sustainable housing depends on the support (or self-interested opposition) of the political powers that be.

In that respect, I believe that the political structure for your villages needs to be that of "Tri-Managed Choice". The community governance, common property and functions, should be provided by an elected, term-limited, representative council, which would include your Enabling Structures, as well as larger infrastructure, transportation, and utility services. The individual construction and services should then be provided by NPOs, NGOs, and other collaborative organizations. I like to call these "Professional Service Organizations (PSOs)", run by managers, participant boards, and volunteers who can compete for contracts issued by the local government.
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By twa2europe on July 11, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Fast, engaging read with an interesting picture of what could be the future.
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