cover image A Good House: Building a Life on the Land

A Good House: Building a Life on the Land

Richard Manning. Grove/Atlantic, $21.95 (238pp) ISBN 978-0-8021-1503-4

Newly remarried after a bitter divorce, Manning at age 40 determined to build an environmentally sensitive house with his own hands. Having found land on the edge of the Missoula Valley in Montana, his first step was to drill for water. Manning had help from friends, professionals in the building trade and casual laborers--all of them, as depicted here, distinctive characters. He leads readers on a circuitous path: topics such as tools, concrete, wood and power serve as measures of progress. In the chapter on ``Filth,'' Manning details his problems with a chemical toilet, concluding that the manufacturer's manual was too fastidious. Though he had to make compromises, Manning was satisfied with the house. Readers will be too. Photos. (Apr.)