Cover image for Fabrication : essays on making things and making meaning
Fabrication : essays on making things and making meaning
Neville, Susan, 1951-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
San Francisco, CA : MacMurray & Beck, [2001]

Physical Description:
x, 293 pages ; 21 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
TS146 .N48 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



We are a nation of consumers. But where does what we buy come from? And how are these things made? In this meditation on manufacture, Susan Neville journeys to factories and plants in the heart of Indiana, looking for the sources of things. From these journeys, Neville learns how the process of canning tomatoes is similar to the process of making metal caskets. Watches thousands of blue globes spin through a room like planets. Learns how, and by whom, and how well, and why things are made, whether they be dolls or insulin, gyroscopes or glass. And, by focusing on process and production, Neville gives us new, uncommon perspectives from which to view our world, and ourselves. Fabrication is a beautifully reflective work about making things and making meaning.

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

Who hasn't held some strange object, like a paper clip or a breath mint, and wondered how it came to be shaped, shipped and merchandised? Neville, short story writer and essayist, acts on that curiosity by embarking on a series of factory tours, some planned and others impromptu, to observe the manufacture of all sorts of objects, including globes, caskets, cookies, glass, dolls and even gyroscopes. Her inclination toward fiction and personal essay lend context and a literary flavor, as she describes her sometimes melancholy thoughts and feelings while watching a doll-factory worker write "baby" on each plastic head, or hearing a tobacco auctioneer sigh about a recently lost dog. Sometimes her propensity to wax philosophical works against her, making some passages too lavish for the material. For example, in the chapter about coffins, the spare, clear prose that works well through much of the tour gives way to dreaminess: "I think about the people I love so desperately. I think about their living eyes. Like kindling. Bless the life inside of them. Like kindling." But most of the time, the work truly shines. Readers who appreciate long riffs on meaning and family will be happy to gaze out at these factory floors from their armchairs. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved