Hammer Head: The Making Of A Carpenter by Nina MaclaughlinHammer Head: The Making Of A Carpenter by Nina Maclaughlin

Hammer Head: The Making Of A Carpenter

byNina Maclaughlin

Paperback | April 5, 2016

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Nina MacLaughlin spent her twenties working at a Boston newspaper, sitting behind a desk and staring at a screen. Yearning for more tangible work, she applied for a job she saw on Craigslist—Carpenter’s Assistant: Women strongly encouraged to apply—despite being a Classics major who couldn't tell a Phillips from a flathead screwdriver. She got the job, and in Hammer Head she tells the rich and entertaining story of becoming a carpenter.

Writing with infectious curiosity, MacLaughlin describes the joys and frustrations of making things by hand, reveals the challenges of working as a woman in an occupation that is 99 percent male, and explains how manual labor changed the way she sees the world. We meet her unflappable mentor, Mary, a petite but tough carpenter-sage (“Be smarter than the tools!”), as well as wild demo dudes, foul-mouthed plumbers, grizzled hardware store clerks, and the colorful clients whose homes she and Mary work in.

Whisking her readers from job to job—building a wall, remodeling a kitchen, gut-renovating a house—MacLaughlin examines the history of the tools she uses and the virtues and varieties of wood. Throughout, she draws on the wisdom of Ovid, Annie Dillard, Studs Terkel, and Mary Oliver to illuminate her experience of work. And, in a deeply moving climax, MacLaughlin strikes out on her own for the first time to build bookshelves for her own father.

Hammer Head is a passionate book full of sweat, swearing, bashed thumbs, and a deep sense of finding real meaning in work and life.

Nina MacLaughlin lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she works as a carpenter. Formerly an editor at the Boston Phoenix, she has written for the Believer, Bookslut, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and elsewhere.
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Title:Hammer Head: The Making Of A CarpenterFormat:PaperbackDimensions:240 pages, 8.26 × 5.53 × 0.56 inPublished:April 5, 2016Publisher:WW NortonLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0393352323

ISBN - 13:9780393352320

Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from AMPS All My Puny Sorrows is a mixture of LOL and lump in the throat combination.
Date published: 2015-04-28

Editorial Reviews

MacLaughlin…is a master writer, with the rare combination of acute observation and astute word choice that characterizes writers like Annie Dillard or Joan Didion. — Rebecca Steinitz (Boston Globe)Reading Hammer Head, like consuming Cheryl Strayed’s Wild, feels like a crucial education. — Isabella Biedenharn (Entertainment Weekly)Beautiful and wise…Like if Annie Dillard had her own show on HGTV. — Edan Lepucki (The Millions)MacLaughlin has hit the nail on the head…Stunning. — Caroline Goldstein (Bustle)An inspirational account of [MacLaughlin’s] journey to becoming a carpenter, and the lessons she’s learned about life. It will have Wild fans throwing down their backpacks and picking up a hammer. — Liberty Hardy (Book Riot)Riveting…MacLaughlin weaves together layers of history and literature that lift her memoir beyond a personal narrative and into one of all human knowledge. — Tiffany Gibert (Time Out New York)MacLaughlin’s evocative prose is just as plumb, level, and true as all the wood structures she ultimately learns to build. This is a lovely and important book. — Andre Dubus IIIIn this beautiful memoir about learning a trade, Nina MacLaughlin explores mortality, desire, the passage of time, and the meaning of work. She transcends the personal and makes us question what of our own works are built to endure. This book—a thing well-made—certainly is. I loved it from beginning to end. — Philip Connors, author of Fire SeasonNina MacLaughlin built a dream by becoming a carpenter, and transformed her life. Hammer Head is her exquisitely inspiring story. I loved it. — Lynne Cox, author of Swimming to Antarctica