Tuesday, April 28, 2009

pollan fever

I love Alain de Botton. Travel, love, status anxiety, physical space - he wraps it all up in an artsy philosophical package that you just can't wait to tear open.

Michael Pollan has done the same thing for the tangible world, totally re-shaping the way we look at food - and writing about it in that page-turning way only Pollan can do.

pollan's writing house

While perusing the used bookshops in Melville last month, I came across A Place of My Own, Pollan's treatise on personal architecture. Written after finishing renovation of his own home and upon entering into fatherhood, the book winds elegantly between construction handbook and the individual's need for personal space.

my writing house?

When I was growing up, I had a little hideaway under the basement stairs. My dad creeped me out by telling me it was because it was only 8 years earlier that I was just a little seed in my mom's womb. Twenty years, later, it makes sense, but the desire to have a "place of my own" has never subsided. Pollan's place is a shingled writing shack in the woods near his home. I've visualized a whole range of my own places, from one of those prefab houses dropped on a plot in rural West Virginia, to a house on stilts in Belize with zero decoration - just warm wood tones and sea breezes. Or a Bon Iver-ish dark cabin in the woods with a hearth and blankets of snow outside.

Pollan's descriptions totally hit home - from my own dreams about place to his education on architecture. The book traipses from framing to Le Corbusier, from roofing to Frank Lloyd Wright, and from site selection to Peter Eisenman (eek! I still hate him!). Ultimately, he brings it back to architecture as shelter, and the very personal architecture of creating a space that suits who we are. Bravo.

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