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World Made by Hand: A Novel by James Howard…
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World Made by Hand: A Novel (original 2008; edition 2009)

by James Howard Kunstler

Series: World Made By Hand (1)

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8565117,526 (3.49)47
In the wake of global catastrophes that have destroyed industrial civilization, the inhabitants of Union Grove, a small New York town, do anything they can to get by, as they struggle to deal with a new way of life over the course of an eventful summer.
Member:jhbadger
Title:World Made by Hand: A Novel
Authors:James Howard Kunstler
Info:Grove Press (2009), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 336 pages
Collections:Your library
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World Made By Hand by James Howard Kunstler (2008)

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» See also 47 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 50 (next | show all)
The world has run out of oil. There has been illness, and not a lot of people are left. Robert is living in his small world in Union Grove, New York. People don’t get very far from where they live, anymore, without vehicles. There is a settlement closeby with a criminal leader, where most of the townspeople avoid. A religious cult has just moved into the abandoned high school. When Robert heads toward the closeby settlement with a friend to buy some supplies, things go terribly wrong and Robert’s young friend is shot and killed.

Despite starting off with a “bang” (so to speak), I found the book moved really slowly. It was ok. There was a bit of weirdness involving the religious cult toward the end, but the happenings picked up a little bit (with a horrible thing happening!). Overall, it was still an interesting read on people trying to get by on a much older way of life – without electricity and so many other modern conveniences as we are used to. ( )
  LibraryCin | Feb 23, 2020 |
Very different from what I expected, well written and absorbing. I was most impressed that the religious group introduced at the beginning turned out to be three-dimensional and nuanced, and not the standard bad guys. I thought it wandered a little at the end, but it was good enough that I ordered the next book in the series. ( )
  unclebob53703 | Feb 7, 2019 |
Life in a rural NY village about 9 years after bombs have "taken out" LA & DC followed a few years later by a decimating flu epidemic. The world's economic/trade structure has fallen apart as has (at least in the US) government. There is no mention of a nuclear winter so we'll assume those were some other kind of bomb.
I have mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, it is well written, the story flows smoothly, and I don't have any quibbles about any of the daily life details. Robert is our protagonist: an apparently laid-back carpenter whose family is all gone. It can be read as a tale of people taking care of each other, struggling to keep in place some survival skills. We're told one of the defining characters of humans is we just don't give up.
On the other hand, the bucolic feel is jarred by the arrival of a religious group which contains a number of ex-military men, and a disruption on relations with nearby communities. Robert is shaken out of his depression and starts taking an active role in thinking of how to keep things from falling apart in his community. I regret that the only solution involves killing, as does he, but we are given hope that with a few "bad apples" out of the way a more equitable future will come about. This theme seems to be the importance of strong leaders--good or bad--in setting the direction of any group.
Actually I do have one quibble: the new arrivals talk about leaving the Philadelphia area because of racial strife. At first it's not clear what race they are, but later they talk about the oppressed races rising up. Well, those troubles are distant from rural NY, but at some point these groups will have to develop trust. That's beyond the end of this book.
The story does get wrapped up fairly quickly, & leaves me wondering whether the current state of "normality" will last. ( )
  juniperSun | Apr 29, 2017 |
Post-apocalyptic, back-to-the-land sort of book. Romantic in a homesteaddy sort of way. ( )
  willszal | Jan 3, 2016 |
The first book of 2016 and a good pick it was.

World Made by Hand is a story of post apocalypse small town USA, namely Union Grove, NY. There's no mad max-esque petrol guzzling convoys with endless shoot outs but rather the slow methodical lurch of a small town of folks trying to get by after the modern conveniences vanish.

People will either love its rural realism or hate the lack of break neck action, I for one enjoy a good post apocalypse novel based more in reality than fanciful fiction, the tone brings back memories of Alas, Babylon.

Off to buy book #2, would recommend. ( )
  HenriMoreaux | Jan 2, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 50 (next | show all)
No one can predict the future, and I doubt our future will be much like the one depicted here, but I think its possible that Kunstler has come closer to showing us what's in store than anyone else.
 

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Epigraph
Whom will you cry, to heart? More and more lonely,
your path struggles on through incomprehensible
mankind. All the more futile perhaps
for keeping its own direction,
keeping on toward the future,
toward what has been lost.


-- Rilke
I am a pilgrim and a stranger
Traveling through this wearisome land
I've got a home in that yonder city
And it's not (good Lord it's not) not made by hand.


-- American gospel song
Dedication
To Sally Eckhoff
Fabulous transcender of the mundane
With love
First words
Loren and I walked the railroad tracks along the river coming back from fishing the big pool under the old iron bridge, and I couldn't remember a lovelier evening before or after our world had changed.
Quotations
"We're building our own New Jerusalem up the river. It's a world made by hand, now, one stone at a time, one board at a time, one soul at a time." (Brother Jobe)
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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