"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
A warm and inspiring book for anyone who has ever dreamed of changing tracks, Hammer Head is the story of a young woman who quit her desk job to become a carpenter. Writing with infectious curiosity, Nina MacLaughlin—a Classics major who couldn’t tell a Phillips from a flathead screwdriver—describes the joys and frustrations of making things by hand. Filled with the wisdom of writers from Ovid to Mary Oliver and MacLaughlin’s own memorable accounts of working with wood, unfamiliar tools, and her unforgettable mentor, Hammer Head is a passionate book full of sweat, bashed thumbs, and a deep sense of finding real meaning in work and life.
A Boston newspaperwoman transformed herself into a carpenter's assistant and found new satisfaction working with her hands rather than molding words. In her light narrative, in which the former classics major wisely and sparingly employs allusions to Ovid and Vitruvius, MacLaughlin recounts her quirky journey, after seven years at the Phoenix, to landing an improbable job at age 30 as assistant to the highly trained carpenter, Mary, a petite, self-described "43-year-old married lesbian." Mary's patience and encouragement on numerous jobs in the Boston area, like kitchen and bathroom renovations, moving walls, tiling and ripping out floors and stairs, over many seasons with MacLaughlinallowed the author to grow and learn and even master carpentry work on her own. The author quotes Gabriel Garc a M rquez calling literature "nothing but carpentry.... With both you are working with reality, a material just as hard as wood," yet M rquez had actually never worked with wood, while the author finds enormous release in hands-on labor free of words. Moreover, women make up only about 2% of the male-dominated profession of carpenter, MacLaughlin cites, thus rendering enormous interest in this painstaking work so lovingly delineated.