Thursday, September 17, 2009

new book

Today my advance copy of Rustic Furniture Basics arrived in the mail. I have also been asked to do a review of Matthew Crawford's book, Shop Class as Soulcraft for a magazine. It is an awkward situation. I love Matthew's book, and highly recommend it. but I would like to point out the difference between an intellectual inquiry and a good how-to book. With the inquiry, you, the reader may remain unmoved, except to chalk it off on the "books I've read list" and the writer may never be actually tested on the accuracy and significance of his intellectual position.

When you make something from a how-to book, you are dependent on the actual experience and accuracy of portrayal of the author. If I give you the wrong information, something unworkable, then I've really screwed up. What would have made Matthew's Book better would have been for it to offer specific concrete solutions to what ails us as a culture and economy. An action plan... but then I guess that's why you would come here. Cook, garden, sew, make, care, care for, nourish and by all means pay greater attention to your hands.


  1. I too loved Matthew's book, but I don't think he ever intended to write the "how to" part. Rather, I found the value in his book to be new ways of seeing things, of questioning categories (such as "white collar" and "blue collar") that we often take for granted, and in particular, calling attention to the intelligent practice of those people not formally recognized as "intelligent."

    It reminds me of the insights I gain from seeing a gallery of woodworking: "I never imagined a chair could look like that!" The experience opens my imagination and allows me to explore new possibilities, without telling me how to actually go design and build a new sort of chair.

    You, however, are living the "how to" by teaching at Clear Springs School. When will we see that "how to" book from you? :-)

  2. I am working on it. Matthew's book is definitely well written and insightful. Mike Rose's book Mind at Work brought up the same issues with regard to the white/blue collar divide.

    Most people don't want to take chances with their children, but perhaps both books will make the values of being a fixer or maker more easily understood. My parents wanted me to be a lawyer, and what a sad thing that would have been for me.