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A GOOD HOUSE by Richard Manning

A GOOD HOUSE

Building a Life on the Land

By Richard Manning

Pub Date: April 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-8021-1503-9
Publisher: Grove

 Journalist Manning, whose Last Stand (not reviewed) was an exposÇ of the logging industry, now turns to the story of his decision to put his conservationist principles into action by building--largely with his own hands--a house that embodied the values he's espoused in his writing. We see the process literally from the ground up--anyone who wonders how a house is put together will learn a great deal here- -since Manning is fascinated by the complexities of carpentry, wiring, and plumbing, and the skills of those who do these necessary tasks. Each stage of the construction gets a separate chapter, covering not only the physical process of construction, but its history and its relationship to the ecological and conservational issues that are the author's real subject: where the lumber comes from, how hydroelectric dams affect wildlife, how much water is lost with every flush of a toilet. ``Less is more'' becomes a central theme throughout as Manning shows alternative ways to build a house while keeping waste and energy consumption to a minimum. And he keeps the reader aware of how the house relates to the natural setting of which it is a part- -from the ground squirrels that raid his vegetable garden to the trees that feed his woodstove. Nor does he neglect the human element: nearly every chapter features a sympathetically drawn portrait of some member of his Montana community--be it dowser or banker or backhoe operator--who contributed in some way to the project. Manning combines the nuts-and-bolts concreteness of a how-to book with a lively sense of history and a genuine dedication to principle and self-reliance: this one has the potential to become a modern American classic. (Eight pages of color and b&w photos- -not seen)