Two Brothers, a Dream, and Five Acres in Maine
By Lou Ureneck
Penguin Books, Paperback, 9780143122081, 243pp.
Publication Date: November 27, 2012
Confronted with the disappointments and knockdowns that can come in middle age job loss, the death of his mother, a health scare, a divorce Lou Ureneck needed a project that would engage the better part of him and put him back in life's good graces. City-bound for a decade, Lou decided he needed to build a simple post-and-beam cabin in the woods. He bought five acres in the hills of western Maine and asked his younger brother, Paul, to help him.
Twenty years earlier the brothers had built a house together. Now Lou saw working with Paul as a way to reconnect with their shared history and to rediscover his truest self. As the brothers with the help of Paul's sons undertake the challenging construction, nothing seems to go according to plan. But as they raise the cabin, Ureneck eloquently reveals his own evolving insights into the richness and complexity of family relationships, the healing power of nature, and the need to root oneself in a place one can call home. With its exploration of the satisfaction of building and of physical labor, Cabin will also appeal to readers of Robert Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Matthew Crawford's Shop Class as Soulcraft, and Tracy Kidder's House.
“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