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Tower: Faith, Vertigo, and Amateur Construction Hardcover – April 20, 2000


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This may be the quirkiest, most rambling and yet most charming self-help book that will appear this year, given that the advice is on raising one's own vertical sanctuary for the relief of stress, vertigo and a loss of the will to believe. Having recently built a Maine summer cottage, Henderson, founder and editor of the Pushcart Press, set out during a particularly stressful period to build a tower by hand, with mostly scavenged supplies and no power tools. Forging past his wife's protests, he purchased 1.78 acres of undeveloped land for the purpose near another Maine village. "Edifice complex" or no, Henderson rejects "the bogus phallic symbolism issue" and repeatedly states that he undertook the quixotic project "for no reason." Throughout, he examines and evaluates towers from various periods and places, like those of Pisa; of Joyce's Dublin (the tower of Ulysses still stands, and it remains ugly); and of Los Angeles, where Simon Rodia's Watt's Towers are now the centerpieces of a small urban state park. While the book sometimes seems patched together, and incorporates a few too many extended quotations from Henderson's earlier memoirs (His Son and Her Father), the stresses from which Henderson escapesAa "wobbly" period in his marriage; a struggle with the religious legacy of a God-fearing father and with his wintertime home's Easthampton church; a spate of cancer diagnoses in family and friends; the long-term effects of drinkingAare rendered with a winning earnestness and immediacy. Even Henderson's Luddite rants against technology (he is a founder of the Lead Pencil Club) are disarmingly straightforward. By the time his vertigo gently subsides and he nails the tar paper to the roof, readers will be cheering him on, and will know a lot more about hand tools, shims and catplates.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Henderson, a novelist, memoirist, and founder of Pushcart Press, shares his life journey through his experience building a three-story tower in rural Maine. His marriage faltering, his daughter leaving the nest, and his Presbyterian faith lapsing, he finds that his passion for life seems to have vanished. While scrounging for tower material, he ponders the best way to pour a foundation and compares his tower to others, noting that a tower need not be built for practical, religious, or propagandist purposes. He introduces the reader to historical towers as well as Winifred Lutz's roofless stone tower in Pennsylvania, which captures the sun's rays, and Harold Wit's 40' tower near the beach in New York, among others. As he gets closer to completing his tower, he confronts the true meaning of the exercise: to activate the dreamer inside himself. He comes to hear whispers of grace in the remembered caring of his deceased parents, in the love of his wife and child, and in the everyday kindnesses of strangers. Readers will notice Henderson's passion for life returning. Part personal meditation, part history, and part old-fashioned how-to, this warmly written work is highly recommended for public libraries.
-Leroy Hommerding, Fort Myers Beach P.L., FL
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 1st edition (April 20, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374278512
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374278519
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.2 x 11.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,580,096 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Bill Henderson has been publishing books and newsletters about cancer treatment and helping people deal with cancer since 1998. In this, his third book, Bill offers a very specific and detailed regimen for healing any cancer. He is recognized in 58 countries as an authority on this subject.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 18, 2000
Format: Hardcover
In this book, Bill Henderson gives the reader insights into his personal quest to build as strong,lasting and well-crafted a tower as the relationship he aspires to build within his family and with his God. Both forms of construction entail the exercise of care and personal responsibility and also call on faith to overcome the vertigo of all human beings as they stand poised over the abyss:in this posture, they can, through their action or inaction,either rise to great heights or fall to the lowest depths.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 11, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I found this book to be a fascinating read. The author has an inspiring attitude towards life, spirituality, fatherhood, and the pursuit of a challenge. I saw that this author was to be featured on a radio show so bought his book beforehand. I was very impressed by his eloquence both in print and in speech on the radio show.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Eric Anderson on February 11, 2002
Format: Paperback
Against all logic, Bill Henderson travels to Maine in search of a quiescent state of mind. The editor of Pushcart Press is a married middle-aged man who has just completed his memoirs and is now searching for... what? A tower. His own tower. This compulsion to create a space of fortified solitude is an impulse that is as equally mysterious to the writer/builder himself as to the reader. This curious book is a hodgepodge of details of some of the most acute personal events of his life, the practical construction of a tower from the allocation of a plot of land to the ideal decor for a tower and a scattered history of tower raising. It is a meditation on the compulsive need for solitude in a world where religion falls short of answering our metaphysical questions. The details of the tower's construction are threaded with Henderson's anecdotal accounts and justifications for the project. Illustrations of the tower he builds and various historical towers are scattered throughout the book. Unfortunately, he spends a tad too long summarizing the major points of his two previous memoirs instead of digging into new areas of his literary and personal life. Far from solving the problem of why he wants to build his own tower, this book is a testament to the impulsive desires of our lives. It is meant not only as a practical guide to building your own tower but dealing with the oddities of individual existence. Like Thoreau's Walden, this book is a novel, memoir, philosophical essay and social commentary touching upon universal issues through a moving personal account.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By a reader in NY on April 13, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Bill Henderson's Tower is a beautifully evocative account of his search for himself, man's meaning and his relationship with his god. All through building a tower on the crest of windy hill on an island off the coast of maine. In very accessible prose, his personal journey is poignently told thorugh the progress of his modest two story tower. There is a great tradition of towers-one that I was ignorant of- and Henderson talks of these earlier builders and their "edifices." Some are shown in the book. Terrific book for every middle aged man or woman or reader of sensitive prose.
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