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)
I love Kunstlers other book "The Long Emergency", his blog and interviews but was a bit disappointed by this novel. The story is a bit flat and predictable. The descriptions of the post collapse society was interesting, but left me wanting more detail on the characters. A very one dimensional story.
It's an OK listen one time through, but doubt I'll listen to it again.
Interesting concept, poor writing, lots of pompous pontification
I am open to the concept of a collapsing society, and while I am not convinced that this will happen in the next few decades, it is certainly a possibility. I enjoy this genre of fiction, and I have a great deal of respect for McCarthy's The Road for its masterful, poetic writing and profound themes, for Bacigalupi's The Windup Girl for its handling of a multitude of modern dangers and compelling plot, and for Atwood's Oryx and Crake for its bold premise of humanity re-engineered and also for its fluid writing.
Kuntsler's World Made by Hand, on the other hand, also contains interesting and important ideas, but these are masked by poor, overly explicit presentation of Kuntzler's world view, and by poor writing, wrought with cliches.
Example one: "with his bare hands" This is how the book's villain is tagged by Kuntzler. The villain is suspected of strangling his first wife "with his bare hands," and that trite phrase is repeated a few times.
Example two: This same villain was a motorhead before the collapse, someone who loved snowmobiles, four wheelers, and NASCAR, and who didn't seem at peace without the whir of an engine next to him. OK, I'm a backcountry skiier and whitewater kayaker and I have no great love for snowmobiles or jet skis, but I don't look down on people who do like these things. No, I don't want a snowmobiler polluting the atmosphere of a national park with the roar and exhaust of the engine, but I am prepared to compromise with snowmobilers who also pay taxes and thus support national parks. This villain is two dimensional, a bit like the bad guys cruising around on the oil tanker in Waterworld, and all of us, hillbilly, yuppie, hippie, and entrepreneur are party to the imposition of possibly great social and environmental costs to future generations due to our consumption.
I respect Kuntzler's efforts, but this is an awkward hybrid between an essay and a novel.
This is similar to the rest of a growing genre of post apocalyptic and slow apocalyptic fiction. This is my favorite from what I've heard thus far. I listened to this about a year or so ago, and am looking for more in the genre. I found myself saying, "are there any more of those World Made by Hand stories. I liked them."
Patriots - James Wesley Rawles
American Apocalypse - Nova
The plot was good and the story believable. It seemed short though and left a lot unexplained.
Jim needs to add inflection to make it easier to discern characters. I found myself lost at times wondering which character was speaking or even that another character was involved in the conversation. A great example of a narrator who does this well is Will Patton in Alas, Babylon.
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.
I didnt hate listening to it but there was nothing really to remember about it when I was done. If you like books about nothing, you will love this one.
Pretty good story and an idea of what the world could be but I would have enjoyed more detail. I would call this 'peak-oil or post apocalyptic lite'. I will listen to book 2 , The Witch of Hebron next.
I enjoyed Jim Meskimen's narration a great deal. Whether he was speaking for Brother Jobe, Wayne Karp, the main character Robert Earl, even the women, he was very flexible. I would definitely listen to an audio narration by him again and would put him in the class of Will Patton as a narrator (Alas, Babylon) - Excellent!
Did it in a couple of sittings, the story line was interesting enough and Jim Meskiman's narrating style were solid.
Minor annoyance: The word
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