A carpenter philosophises

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Hammer, chisel, heart and soul

Making Things Right: A Master Carpenter at Work. By Ole Thorstensen. Translated by Sean Kinsella. MacLehose Press; 240 pages; £16.99.

HANDS can reveal much about the lives of their owners. Ole Thorstensen’s fingers are surprisingly intact, and he has a few small but unremarkable scars. His skin is like a “work glove”, tough but smooth. At night the dirt in his pores will not budge. A debut author who has spent nearly 30 years as a carpenter, his hands are a “personal CV”, and his memoir, “Making Things Right”, is an ode to all that they have done.

Woven around the tale of a loft he converts in an Oslo suburb, the book melds the technical and the personal with lyrical minimalism. After a few too many the night before, a Captain Beefheart song becomes lodged in his head: “I went around all day with the Moon sticking in my eye.” Though able to construct a roof truss…Continue reading

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Personal pronouns are changing fast

NOT so long ago a man could be jailed in Texas for sex with another man. In 2015 a county clerk in Kentucky was jailed for refusing to certify the marriage of two men. Gay rights in America proceeded at an extraordinary rate between Lawrence v Texas (2003), in which …

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Giorgio Vasari, the man who created art history

Vasari made craftsmen into stars The Collector of Lives: Giorgio Vasari and the Invention of Art. By Ingrid Rowland and Noah Charney. Norton; 432 pages; $29.95 and £23.99. TOWARDS the end of his life Michelangelo Buonarroti, the most famous artist of the Italian Renaissance, began burning his drawings. He did …

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Esther Kinsky muses on a river in England

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