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Cabin: Two Brothers, a Dream, and Five Acres in Maine Hardcover – September 15, 2011
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"Bracing, beautiful and profoundly heart-felt." -- Boston Globe.
"CABIN belongs on your bookshelf, whether in the city or the country." -- Boston Book Bums.
"Two other cabin dwellers who wrote classic books - Henry David Thoreau and Louise Dickinson Rich - have a worthy successor in Lou Ureneck. Like them, he took to the woods to live deliberately. Like them, his cabin stands as a kind of metaphor for a life." -- Chet Raymo
“Terrific . . . bracing, beautiful, and profoundly heart-felt . . . Ureneck has an immensely observant eye for the richness of nature.” -The Boston Globe
"An exceptional book . . . Ureneck succeeds in delivering an almost tangible experience of escape…Ureneck strikes a pitch-perfect balance in relating the construction of a cabin and the changes going on in his life . . . as close as a book could come to really capturing that feeling of going to the woods to live deliberately.” -The Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Beautifully written . . . a multilayered memoir laced with rich veins of natural history . . . Ureneck shows a gift for emotional exploration and unflinching remembrance…he is a keen observer, blessed and cursed with extraordinary recall and sensitivity.” -The Philadelphia Inquirer
“Like a shelter magazine with soul . . . Ureneck’s account is enriched by pleasing vignettes and family history.” -The New York Times
“A book to be savored and absorbed, piece by piece . . . Ureneck is a thinking man’s outdoor writer . . . his words are chosen precisely, a clear product of careful contemplation about the task at hand and the point he is trying to make . . . [An] ultimately uplifting book about the ability of people to face challenges and make worthwhile changes, and the restorative powers that magically exist, waiting to be harnessed, deep in the Maine woods.” -The Bangor Daily News
“Graceful . . . an inspiring literary construction that lovingly illuminates the depth of family bonds and the character and culture of the New England countryside.” -National Geographic Traveler
“Ureneck takes advantage of the memoir’s flexible form to dip into his past, both distant and recent, which gives the story a rich texture. Ureneck is a sensitive narrator, somewhat wounded by life, and this sensitivity is a strength of the book.” -Down East Magazine
About 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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Top Customer Reviews
This book is compared to Tracy Kidder's House in the description. No. it' is not like Tracy Kidder's House.
In short, this was an excellent book, which I read more or less at a single sitting. As a "gentleman cabin owner" I can't emphasize enough how much we hang on the experiences of others. Nowadays, when driving around, I find my eyes constantly drawn to foundations and roofs. "Mmm...cinder block piers". "Look how they routed the stovepipe out the cabin side not the roof". "Now there's a great idea for firewood storage". Etc., etc. Cabin is full of great details like this. I also really enjoyed Ureneck's observations regarding wildlife, local ecology, weather, geography, and regional history.
However, I am rating this four stars, not five, in part for the reasons noted above, but mainly because I craved even more details on construction, including (especially) the mistakes. How was the well insulated for winter? Did he use heated sleeves? But what was the power source since the cabin is not connected to local power lines? And so forth. More along the lines of Dick Proenneke.
Make no mistake. Anyone who dreams of building a cabin in the woods would profit from this book, which is written with honesty and humility, and is full of useful information. Especially for foundation builders ;-)
Lou Ureneck tells the story of his unsettled childhood - abandoned by his father and stepfather, raised with his brother by his hairdresser mother, moving multiple times and finding his only source of comfort and stability in the woods and swamps near where he lived. Eventually becoming a successful newspaper editor, college professor and family man, the author and his brother drift apart into their own lives. As the brothers become middle aged, both of their marriages end in divorce, and their mother passes away. The cabin is a sort of metaphor for two boys building a secret fort in the backyard.
This book is about building his cabin, but also about sorting through the emotions and memories of childhood, and about sibling ties that need healing. I think most middle aged people will relate to a lot of what he writes, and most of us would love to build a private sanctuary to escape the stresses of life.
Interspersed with the stories of his life, the author goes into detail about the actual mechanics of building a cabin. He also tells a lot of the history of the area in Maine where his cabin is built. He has a way of describing the wildlife, ponds and trees around his cabin that make them appear before the reader's eyes.
I thought perhaps the stories of his childhood took up too much of the book, and that the relationship with his brother never seemed to fully develop, but overall I thoroughly enjoyed the book. I would have liked seeing more pictures of the cabin and his family, and would also like to know how he's enjoying the cabin now that it's done. The author's website didn't yield any further information.
Other books I loved over the years were "The Agony and the Ecstasy", "My Dearly Beloved Friend", "Pillars of the Earth", and "The House". To me, this book echos parts of all the those books. They all revealed the driving force behind of people who care strongly about what they do.