- Hardcover: 336 pages
- Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press; First Edition edition (February 11, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0871139782
- ISBN-13: 978-0871139788
- Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.8 x 1.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 346 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #402,280 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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World Made by Hand: A Novel Hardcover – February 11, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Kunstler's name is mostly associated with nonfiction works like The Long Emergency, a bleak prediction of what will happen when oil production no longer meets demand, and the antisuburbia polemic The Geography of Nowhere. In this novel, his 10th, he visits a future posited on his signature idea: when the oil wells start to run dry, the world economy will collapse and society as we know it will cease. Robert Earle has lost his job (he was a software executive) and family in the chaos following the breakdown. Elected mayor of Union Grove, N.Y., in the wake of a town crisis, Earle must rebuild civil society out of squabbling factions, including a cultish community of newcomers, an established group of Congregationalists and a plantation kept by the wealthy Stephen Bullock. Re-establishing basic infrastructure is a big enough challenge, but major tension comes from a crew of neighboring rednecks led by warlord Wayne Karp. Kunstler is most engaged when discussing the fate of the status quo and in divulging the particulars of daily life. Kunstler's world is convincing if didactic: Union Grove exists solely to illustrate Kunstler's doomsday vision. Readers willing to go for the ride will see a frightening and bleak future. (Mar.)
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"Kunstler's emotional understanding places the book well outside the confines of genre fiction." -- Eve Ottenberg
"Superb ... an extraordinary, suspenseful, deeply affecting yarn that very successfully weaves together elements of science fiction, the Western, and even magical realism.... Read this book." -- Reihan Salam
"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." -- Bharti Kirchner
"Within the first few pages of James Howard Kunstler's poignant, provocatively convincing novel set in a future possibly as near as tomorrow, you find yourself musing: could this happen to me? By the end, you're wondering not could, but when?" -- Alan Weisman
"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." -- Michael Leone
"Unlike the bleakness of style and subject in Cormac McCarthy's The Road, Kunstler's World Made by Hand Is an end-of-days novel that is more a pleasure than a burden to read; it frightens without becoming ridiculously nightmarish, it cautions without being too judgmental, and it offers glimmers of hope we don't have to read between the lines to comprehend." -- Zak M. Salih
"What's after armageddon? No government, no laws, no infrastructure, no oil, no industry . . . and sometimes a sense of relief. In 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." -- Cathleen Medwick
"Kunstler segues from his analysis of the possible effects of a decline in oil production on modern Industrial society to a full-blown, and artfully carried out, semidystopic dramatization of what small-town American life might be like in the wake of major terrorist bombings and industrial decline on U.S. soil.... But in the end, the beauty of Kunstler's brilliant cautionary fiction, aside from the charming narrative with its many convincing details of life after apocalypse, is that most readers will admit that Earle's world, the world made by hand ... sounds at least as unpredictably pleasing as our own." -- Alan Cheuse
"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. [Nearby] the Freedom Tower has just emerged above ground 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." -- Paul Greenberg --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
Top customer reviews
Since the setting was so realistic to me, the story following felt just as real. His book is not scrubbed clean of all sex and violence like so many seem to wish, but then again neither is life. I should think adults can handle these delicate subjects, since this IS an adult book. The sex is brief and not at all sanctioned by Christ or the church or whatever. It is not exceptionally detailed or distracting. It is realistic and treated as par for the course. This is the proper way to treat sex in writing when the book is not made to make women salivate over the romance. The sex is also necessary to the storyline in many instances, to explain the relationships.
He is not against religion in his book, but neither is he exactly for it. He treats religion like a subject meant for better men to handle. That to me is a fine way to treat it. He is humbling in his words. He sees it as a great tool for good and bane. He is realistic if anything when it comes to religion.
There is violence. It is brief, necessary tot he storyline, and treated with the respect violence demands.
None of these three things distracted me from the story, which is that of a town trying to cope with the after affects of TEOTWAWKI. If you want to read some fiction about a dystopian fiction that isn't meant for 10th graders, this is your book. If you do, then I'm sure Hunger Gaes will work just fine for you.
I think the book would have been better if the chapter about the obese "Mother" had been taken out. It served no purpose. And I also though the author just got lazy in the end and just let us think some magical forces were at work to kill both men in the end. A real explanation would have been so much better.
It has made me want to read the next one though which I suppose is the whole point.
But it is also a good piece of story telling. We are quickly sympathetic to Robert and his friends, and we realize that our ideas of right and wrong might not make much sense in his world at times--at other times our morals need to be held to tightly.
I was not particularly pleased with the ending, which introduced a mystical element that didn't fit the rest of the book. But still, it was a good read, entertaining and provoking.