In The Long Emergency, celebrated social commentator James Howard Kunstler explored how the terminal decline of oil production combined with climate change had the potential to put industrial civilization out of business. In World Made by Hand, an astonishing work of speculative fiction, Kunstler brings to life what America might be, a few decades hence, after these catastrophes converge.
The electricity has flickered out. The automobile age is over. In Union Grove, a little town in upstate New York, the future is nothing like people thought it would be. Life is hard and close to the bone. Transportation is slow and dangerous, so food is grown locally at great expense of time and energy, and the outside world is largely unknown. There may be a president, and he may be in Minneapolis now, but people aren’t sure. The townspeople’s challenges play out in a dazzling, fully realized world of abandoned highways and empty houses, horses working the fields and rivers, no longer polluted, and replenished with fish.
This is the story of Robert Earle and his fellow townspeople and what happens to them one summer in a country that has changed profoundly. A powerful tale of love, loss, violence, and desperation, World Made by Hand is also lyrical and tender, a surprising story of a new America struggling to be born - a story more relevant now than ever.
©2008 James Howard Kunstler (P)2010 Blackstone Audiobooks
“Richly imagined.” (O, The Oprah Magazine)
“Far from a typical postapocalyptic novel…An impassioned and invigorating tale whose ultimate message is one of hope, not despair.” (San Francisco Chronicle)
“Brilliant.” (Chicago Tribune)
This book is very entertaining. Mr Meskimen does a great with the audio.
In a PA world it would seem that there would be less order in the world.
I live in the deep woods of Alabama-an aspiring writer/illustrator. I spend my time consumin' literature and poopin' out Doodles. :)
Top 10 favorite books. Beautifully written.
It's not just another dystopian future story with zombies and evil governments (don't get me wrong I like those, too). I love the book's small, simple world and how it is constructed.
No. I wanted it to last longer so one sitting wouldn't work for me.
I've listened to this book several times now and it doesn't lose it's charm. It has a super-natural element that blends seamlessly with Kuntsler's hyper-realistic writing style. Some reviewers were distracted by the "old-timey" slang but I thought it furthered the books character and dimension.
Post apocalyptic listener with some thrillers mixed in. Follow me on twitter at @drewsant
“A World Made By Hand” paints a vivid picture of what life could be like when all of the modern world’s conveniences are gone through lack of oil. If you’re looking for an action packed post apocalypse thriller this probably isn’t for you, but what it lacks in action it more than makes up for in storytelling. Everything from what has happened to make the world this way to the everyday actions of the characters are painted so vividly that you could practically be there. The characters are liable well thought out and the story is so interesting compared to other post-apocalyptic novels. While other novels are almost exclusively small groups or individuals trying to stay alive this book focuses on a whole community. I can’t wait to get into the other books in the series.
The narrator was great with the different characters and really brought the story to life.
Disease and other complications have returned the world to pre-petroleum technology - a traditional setting for this genre. We are in a town that is hobbling along, relying on tradition and custom, rather than any real government or law enforcement. Much of this book, the first in a series (I know there is another one out, but I haven't yet read it), is a great introduction to the protagonist, whose wife has died and whose son left town a few years before. He is in a relatively secret relationship with the wife of his best friend, the local Congregationalist minister (although it is apparently not a secret to the minister - they just never talk about it). A cultish group of men and women have bought the local high school and are fixing it up as a place to live. At times cooperative, they also demonstrate that they are willing to violate others' rights to get them to conform to their expectations and religion. At the same time, a group on the edge of town who supply materials gleaned from garbage dumps and demolition, are also demonstrating their unwillingness to abide by standard modes of behavior; they engage in an apparent murder, coercion, and theft. So with this - and an attractive young widow - as the backdrop, we become engaged in the protagonist's life, a life that is expressed in great detail. But as we get closer to the end of the book, and as we become to suspect that the science fiction in this story may not be limited to just the hypothesized near-future (indeed, it may creep over into fantasy, but we don't ever get to really know in this book), the detail starts to be overlooked. The book rushes to an end. Now I know that the details may come out in the next volume, but the way that the likely war was averted between the town and the inhabitants of the junk yard was just too easy. If the book just ended there, ok. But the protagonist relates a summary of the next few months, and somehow peace happens, his conjugal relationship with the young widow continues, and there is no mention of the reaction of his previous lover, the minister's wife. It just ends too smoothly. I would have preferred a cliff-hanger to the easy gloss that is provided. I happen to relish (and am writing a novel in) this genre, and I really enjoyed this book, up until the last - rushed - part. I have bought the next in the series, but I am a bit worried that the craft of the first three-quarters of the first book will not be achieved in the second. We will see.
In the top 10 (and I have read over 100).
I like the detail the author puts into the characters and the location. I like the detailed descriptions of the way the world downsized and the way people had managed to cope.
His voice and narration sounded right for the lead character. If you close your eyes and listen you can picture him across the table chatting to you.
Not really, I enjoyed the story as a whole.
Just downloaded book two "the witch of hebron'. I hope its as good as this one
Enjoyable,Realistic& Thought Provoking
That the characters showed a world where the main characters were basically moral and Christians.
This book will cause you to be thankful to God for the small things we take for granted.
Robert ,although I was confused about his relationship with his friend's wife.
Yes ,the way the community supported the widow of the man that was killed at the General.
On the trip to Albany I was touched by the compassion the men showed by taking time to bury the poor suicide victim and her husband.
Looking forward to book two.
The pace of the book is good, and without being overly depressing, the author paints a good picture of a world that has run down, where society has had to regroup in small communities and revert to outdated technologies that don't depend on the Internet, electricity, fossil fuels, etc.
The only mildly annoying aspect is that during most dialogues, the "____ said" gets repetitive.
For a more fantastical portrayal of a world that has "moved on" I recommend Stephen King's Dark Tower series.
The guy sounded like the talking pc that you type into and the women's voices were awful.
Great book. Nice concepts based on Kunstler's future predictions of a post oil future with a fun story to go alongside it.
Yes, for a stark wake-up to our lifestyle's wekanesses and societal assumptions.
Yes, he has an intelligent but alternative view on things-
Overall good, a little overdone on some characters.
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