- Paperback: 352 pages
- Publisher: Grove Press (July 14, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0802123724
- ISBN-13: 978-0802123725
- Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 1.1 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (118 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #232,376 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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A History of the Future: A World Made By Hand Novel Paperback – July 14, 2015
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Kunstler’s post-economic-collapse and postdigital World Made by Hand series continues with increasing literary finesse in the third installment. . . . Kunstler, who overtly articulates his postoil vision in his nonfiction revels in this back-to-basics way of life. . . . Kunstler skewers everything from kitsch to greed, prejudice, bloodshed, and brainwashing in this wily, funny, rip-roaring, and profoundly provocative pageturner, leaving no doubt that the prescriptive yet devilishly satiric World Made by Hand series will continue."Booklist (starred review)
The arrival of this latest addition to James Howard Kunstler’s post-apocalyptic World Made by Hand” series reminds me that time is running out for me to get started reading these books . . . After all, the world could collapse any minuteas it does in these novels.”The Quivering Pen
After reading the novel you will come away with an appreciation for self-sufficiency . . . I’d recommend it to anyone who wants a realistic picture into the not too distant future.”TheBurningPlatform.com
Praise for the World Made by Hand series:
Far from a typical postapocalyptic novel. It caters neither to a pseudo-morbid nor faddishly slick vision of the future. Though grim with portent, it is ultimately, as Camus’s novel The Plague, an impassioned and invigorating tale whose ultimate message is one of hope, not despair.”San Francisco Chronicle on World Made by Hand
The verisimilitude of Kunstler’s world leads me to think the future is Union Grove. Thirty years from now, it will be interesting to see if that little town seems excessively sad, richly luxurious or spot on. But for now, I’m hedging my bets. Where I Live, one block east of ground zero, I’ve started keeping a compost bin and am thinking about adding a micro wind generator. Two blocks south, the damaged former Deutsche Bank building comes down floor by floor. To the north, the Freedom Tower has just emerged aboveground and may one day be full of investment bankers. Recently, though, I’ve started looking at that plot through Kunstler’s eyes. It gets good sunlight, and it occurs to me it would make a hell of a bean field.”The New York Times Book Review on World Made by Hand
Chronicles the aftereffects of the collapse of our technological society in the near future . . . Kunstler’s storytelling talents are in evidence here. Kunstler has punctuated the nightmarish scenario of his novel with . . . poignant moments where hope and despair vie for dominance of the human spirit.” The Seattle Times on World Made by Hand
In many ways [The Witch of Hebron] reminded me of Larry McMurty’s Lonesome Dove, set in the dystopian world of The Road. . . . By the middle of the book you are immersed in a richly imagined world made by hand,’ eagerly devouring every page. . . . [Kunstler] has woven his nightmares into a vision or America after a complete economic, political, and cultural collapse.”New York Journal of Books on The Witch of Hebron
Kunstler offers a sharply cautionary tale, conjuring up bizarre characters who would be right at home in the scariest haunted houses. . . . Kunstler excels at writing lyric passages about nature . . . His acute pessimism about the future coexists with his faith in the human instinct to survive and adapt . . . [and] he demonstrates that the human penchant for storytelling is unlikely ever to become extinct so long as a single human being has breath enough to speak and strength enough to write.”America Magazine on The Witch of Hebron
"What's after Armageddon? No government, no laws, no infrastructure, no oil, no industry....and sometimes a sense of relief. In James Howard Kunstler's richly imagined World Made by Hand, the bone-weary denizens of Union Grove (with its echo of Our Town's Grover's Corners) cope with everything from mercenary thugs to religious extremists, yet manage to plant a few seeds of human decency that bear fruit." O Magazine on World Made by Hand
One pitfall in painting a convincing picture of the future is forgetting all the small ways in which life would differ if big changes swept in. Kunstler avoids it, and his catalog of such finer points is a subtle, continuing pleasure.”The Boston Globe on World Made by Hand
About the Author
James Howard Kunstler was born in New York City in 1948. He is the author of twelve novels, including "World Made By Hand" and "The Witch of Hebron," and four nonfiction books, including "The Long Emergency." He is a frequent lecturer at colleges and professional organizations across the country. He lives in Saratoga Springs, New York.
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There are two concurrent plots in this offering: one around a murder and its subsequent trial as Union Grove attempts to maintain some sense of civility and justice, the other of the return of Robert Earle's son Daniel (who left the community in _A World Made By Hand_) to see the wider world, explore and have adventures. These two stories show a contempt for modern life, highlight the cultural and social fissures in America and underscore the fragility of modern "civilization" much as Golding does in _Lord of the Flies_ (but without the heavy-handed analogies, symbols and overt barbarism of the latter's work).
The contempt Kunstler seems to have for modernity is constantly shown through the disparaging view of modern appliances, electrical and fossil-fuel power and the myriad ways in which these technologies are taken for granted. That so many characters fail to cope with their new reality and the lack of ease, comfort and convenience of the present unhinges many people, Kunstler almost accusing modernity of robing people of meaning in their lives, meaning which is returned when his characters are forced to live a simpler life closer to the land. This contrast - as well as the way in which so many have reinvented themselves given the circumstances of his world - makes for fantastic reading.
I especially enjoyed the details and depth Kunstler provides familiar characters, especially Brother Jobe, who I initially did not like, and whose New Hope Church was a source of suspicion. However, by providing some insight and surprising details and backstory, that Kunstler can transform a character into a sympathetic - even likable - character is testament to his skill as a storyteller.
For those unfamiliar with this storyline, I recommend it; it certainly has given me pause to consider my skill set as well as take a second look at how modernity is shaping not only ourselves but the environment around us. In this, Kunstler is doing precisely what great writers of fiction do: make readers reassess themselves. The series isn't as bleak and cruel as The Road, nor as overtly politically charged as 1984 (Signet Classics) or even The Hunger Games (Book 1). While dystopian, Kunstler's view of the future is nevertheless a biting commentary on contemporary society and modernity, and worthy of attention.
I've read the other World Made By Hand novels and enjoyed them both, and i did enjoy this one
until it ended. Which is does abruptly, without resolving any aspect of the main plot, nor any subplots.
The whole book read like a couple of chapters, I honestly feel cheated by this book, which is something
I have never said about before. This is likely because I enjoy Kunstler's work and had waited a long time for this
and it was pretty much a non-story. Hopefully, the next one will be better.
I'm pleased that Kunstler is trying for a serial set of novels, but this is more like a novella, and it fails at that as well,
because it doesn't resolve any part of the story line in a meaningful way. This would be okay if I could just go grab
the next book, but as long as it took this book to come out, (World Made By Hand was in '08, Witch came out in '10, we had to wait four long years for this one) it was not worth the wait.
Let me restate that for as long as the story lasted (not long) I did enjoy the writing.
Edit: Due to the rather slapdash quality of this novel I revisited this review and reduced my rating to three stars after some internal debate. I think that Greer's "Twilight's Last Gleaming" is a better bet. Twilight's Last Gleaming
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