Nina MacLaughlin

discusses

Hammer Head:
The Making of a Carpenter

This event includes a book signing

Date

Mar
16
Monday
March 16, 2015
7:00 PM

Location

Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

Tickets

This event is free; no tickets are required.

Harvard Book Store welcomes former editor at The Boston Phoenix NINA MACLAUGHLIN for a discussion of her book Hammer Head: The Making of a Carpenter—a book for anyone who has ever dreamed of changing tracks: the story of a young woman who quit her desk job to become a carpenter.

Nina MacLaughlin spent her twenties working at a Boston newspaper, sitting behind a desk and staring at a screen. Yearning for more tangible work, she applied for a job she saw on Craigslist—Carpenter’s Assistant: Women strongly encouraged to apply—despite being a Classics major who couldn't tell a Phillips from a flathead screwdriver. She got the job, and in Hammer Head she tells the rich and entertaining story of becoming a carpenter.

Writing with infectious curiosity, MacLaughlin describes the joys and frustrations of making things by hand, reveals the challenges of working as a woman in an occupation that is 99 percent male, and explains how manual labor changed the way she sees the world. We meet her unflappable mentor, Mary, a petite but tough carpenter-sage (“Be smarter than the tools!”), as well as wild demo dudes, foul-mouthed plumbers, grizzled hardware store clerks, and the colorful clients whose homes she and Mary work in.

Whisking her readers from job to job—building a wall, remodeling a kitchen, gut-renovating a house—MacLaughlin examines the history of the tools she uses and the virtues and varieties of wood. Throughout, she draws on the wisdom of Ovid, Annie Dillard, Studs Terkel, and Mary Oliver to illuminate her experience of work. And, in a deeply moving climax, MacLaughlin strikes out on her own for the first time to build bookshelves for her own father.

Hammer Head is a passionate book full of sweat, swearing, bashed thumbs, and a deep sense of finding real meaning in work and life.

Nina MacLaughlin
Nina MacLaughlin

Nina MacLaughlin

Nina MacLaughlin is the author of Wake, Siren: Ovid Resung, a re-telling of Ovid's Metamorphoses told from the perspective of the female figures transformed, published by FSG/FSG Originals in November, 2019. Her first book was the acclaimed memoir Hammer Head: The Making of a Carpenter. Formerly an editor at the Boston Phoenix, she worked for nine years as a carpenter, and is now a books columnist for the Boston Globe. Her work has appeared on or in The Paris Review Daily, The Believer, American Short Fiction, the Los Angeles Review of Books, the Wall Street Journal, Meatpaper, and elsewhere. She carves spoons and lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Photo credit: Kelly Davidson

Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

Walking from the Harvard Square T station: 2 minutes

As you exit the station, reverse your direction and walk east along Mass. Ave. in front of the Cambridge Savings Bank. Cross Dunster St. and proceed along Mass. Ave for three more blocks. You will pass Au Bon Pain, JP Licks, and TD Bank. Harvard Book Store is located at the corner of Mass. Ave. and Plympton St.

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General Info
(617) 661-1515
info@harvard.com

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