Monday, March 16, 2015

Indies Inroduce...Debut Authors
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.

Read an excerpt HERE.

Why I Quit My Desk Job and Became a Carpenter

Praise for the book:
“An effortless blend of literary craft with woodcraft.” ~Library Journal

“A surprisingly thoughtful book about taking chances and finding joy in change.” ~Kirkus

“Renders enormous interest in this painstaking work, so lovingly delineated.” ~Publishers Weekly

“Not many of us find the courage to follow that small voice inside us to our true work, especially when that work lacks social status and health benefits and financial stability. But here, in this wonderfully assured debut, Nina MacLaughlin compellingly chronicles having done just that, a leap of faith that brings her more deeply into her very core where the stakes are high but the potential for lasting joy is even higher. Lucky for us, 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 III, author of Townie

Hammer Head is warm, wise, and authentically inspiring. No other book has made me want to re-read Ovid and retile my bathroom floor, nor given me the conviction that I can do both. I loved it.” ~Rosie Schaap, author of Drinking with Men

“In 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.” ~Philip Connors, author of Fire Season

“Nina 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

“I have never built anything but after reading Nina MacLaughlin's smart, inspiring memoir Hammer Head, I wanted to. She gives context and depth to wood and the act of shaping it, of working with one's hands, of taking risks and letting go. A fantastic debut.” ~Molly Birnbaum, author of Season to Taste

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