From The New York Times, Dec 11, 2008 by Anne River
“Listening to Stone: Hardy Structures, Perilous Follies and Other Tangles With Nature” (Artisan, $23.95), by Dan Snow, who has been building stone walls and other structures without mortar for more than 30 years, is practical enough to tempt gardeners to put aside the trowel and start gathering rocks. The photographs by Peter Mauss evoke the powerful spirit of place that local stone imparts. And it’s a pleasure to hear the builder’s voice again, as honest and unpretentious as the stone he advises us to gather from our fields and woods. In describing one project on an old Vermont homestead, he tells of using long slabs to span the gaping holes in a dilapidated stone wall. The result, “Walking Wall,” is like an American Stonehenge.
From The Washington Post, Dec 11, 2008 by Adrian Higgins
“Listening to Stone,” by Dan Snow (Artisan, $23.95). Snow, from Vermont, is a master with stones. His work at times rises to the level of land art you associate with British sculptor Andy Goldsworthy (whose work can seen in the National Gallery of Art’s East Building).
I love well-crafted stone walls, especially in an appropriately rural setting. When they are assembled well, the walls take on an organic quality. They certainly speak to Snow, who has spent many hours meditating on the meaning of stone as he goes about his work. “A dry stone wall,” he writes, “is both a human work framed by nature, and a work of nature touched by humanity.”
Readers will have their own favorite projects featured in the book, perhaps the medieval tent — he calls it an archer’s pavilion — but made of stone; or the perfectly formed fire bowl; or the hillside shelter for sheep, with its stone-tiled roof. One of his earlier works remains to me the most special, a simple stone pen used as a vegetable garden. This rectangle of stone, 100 yards long in total, took him three months to build. As with his favorite projects, he harvested the stone from the remnants of old field walls on the property.
Snow could get his stone from a quarry, but he prefers to take it from the same land it will adorn. “Going up into the woods assigns a value to stone that can’t be gained by any other means. They are discovered in a state of innocent repose, all supine, snuggled together on the forest floor in peaceful splendor. My wish that they remain undisturbed has never been as strong as the itch I’ve felt to build something with them.”