Friday, March 9, 2012

Author announcement: Lou Ureneck

CABIN was selected by Publishers Weekly as one of the
Top 10 memoirs to hit stores in fall 2011.
Lou Ureneck was looking for something that would lift him from his gloom.  He had been city-bound for a decade, and was dealing with some of the usual disappointments of middle age—the loss of a job, the death of his mother, a health scare, climbing back from a divorce.  He needed a project that would engage the better part of him, one that would pull him from an uninspired state of mind. Being a lifelong outdoorsman, Ureneck realized that he was at his happiest when outside, working with his hands. In 2008, he purchased a five acre lot in rural western Maine near the New Hampshire border, and set his sights on building his dream cabin, aided by his brother, Paul. The cabin became the inspiration for Ureneck’s blog for The New York Times called “From the Ground Up,” and now the trials and tribulations of this two-year process are chronicled in his new book, CABIN: Two Brothers, a Dream, and Five Acres in Maine (On Sale: September 19, 2011; Viking; 978-0-670-02294-6; $25.95).

At first, Ureneck saw the cabin simply as a way to put some nature back into his life. However, as Ureneck and his brother spent more time together, working through endless problems during the construction process, he came to see that building the cabin was also a way for him to hold on to the most important pieces of himself, the memories he shared with his younger brother.  As Ureneck reveals the actual construction of the cabin—excavating, digging the foundation holes, and assembling the frame and the rafters—he also lovingly describes the bond that is renewed and strengthened between him and his brother, as well as his nephews, who tag along to help whenever they can. Ureneck writes tellingly of the landscape of his childhood, the New Jersey shore, where he caught crabs and trapped muskrats in the swamps, and of the struggle he and his brother had growing up in a poor household with no father and a mother who was constantly moving them from place to place. In building the cabin, Ureneck comes to realize that he is not just building himself a retreat from big-city life and its problems, he is building himself a “home,” a concept that had eluded him for most of his life.

CABIN is a beautifully written story about the evolving relationship of two brothers who are building their way to the far end of middle age and dealing with the issues those years present, such as loss, change, and the search for renewal. Ureneck also explores the satisfactions to be obtained from physical labor and the pleasure and emotional healing that can come from nature and country living, as well as drawing a portrait of the historical and cultural context of this specific corner of New England.

Lou Ureneck was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey.  A former newspaper editor at the Portland Press Herald in Maine and the Philadelphia Inquirer, he is now head of the journalism department at Boston University.  His first book, Backcast:  Fatherhood, Fly-fishing, and a River Journey Through the Heart of Alaska received the 2007 National Outdoor Book Award.

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