Hull (Traditional American Rooms, 2003) celebrates the lost art of thoughtful home construction.
We don’t build houses like we used to. The craftsmanship central to generations of construction is largely absent in modern homebuilding, which has become more concerned with creating a mass-produced product at a predetermined price. Hull takes readers through the evolution of our views on home construction: what was once valued, what is valued now, and what things most people don’t ever think about. The book includes explanations of the shifting architectural trends in residences, from Enlightenment-era builders finding inspiration in antiquity to European-style houses in America to Levittown and the rise of production building. He also explains the processes of home design, from fire-safety concerns and framing to theories of ornamentation. He concludes with an “Illustrations and Applications” chapter to guide those who wish to implement what they’ve learned. Yet this book won’t actually tell readers how to build a house; rather, it looks at the way homebuilding was approached (aesthetically, philosophically, commercially) in Europe and America in the last few centuries and how we have arrived at our current homebuilding culture. His argument isn’t based on bleary-eyed nostalgia: it appears that houses really were objectively better in earlier eras, and if people demand as much, they can be better again. This seems like a book for the times: as people become ever more interested in “artisanal” everything, Hull reminds us that the ultimate embodiment of craftsmanship and rustic know-how is a well-built house. A construction veteran of the world of historic restoration, Hull is also a gifted writer of (better than) workmanlike prose. His narrative voice is clean and accessible; a more inspired, lyrical language sometimes arises when he broaches a topic (such as the Derby Summerhouse) that truly excites him. Part call to action, part exploration of technique, the result is a persuasive and enjoyable reminder that our homes are reflections of ourselves. As Hull says, “We need to wonder if building cheap homes doesn’t cause us to become a cheap culture.”
A pleasing, educational look at traditional home construction.
Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.
Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").
Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)