World Made by Hand

World Made by Hand

Paperback - 2009
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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. For the townspeople of Union Grove, New York, the future is nothing like they thought it would be. 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. Their challengesplay 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. With the cost of oil skyrocketing--and with it the price of food--Kunstler's extraordinary book, full of love and loss, violence and power, sex and drugs, depression and desperation, but also plenty of hope, is more relevant than ever.
Publisher: New York : Grove Press ; [Berkeley, Calif.] : Distributed by Publishers Group West, [2009], c2008.
ISBN: 9780802144010
0802144012
Characteristics: 317, [5] p. ; 21 cm.

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HM_Claude
Jan 22, 2020

Boring and misogynistic.
I made it a few chapters in when the stick of misogyny began to permeate the book. Upon a search of reviews I found that the stick wouldn't go away, but gets worse as the book progresses. The women are nothing more than sex toys and house cleaners. All of them.
Digging deeper, the root of the misogyny becomes clear. Click the link for a post from a misogynistic, homophobic man. https://kunstler.com/clusterfuck-nation/man_down/
To any self respecting women, and any man that respects women, stay away from this book, and this author.

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emilyhart66
Oct 18, 2019

This series is an interesting read and gives one plenty to think about. Unfortunately so many novels about a post collapse society relegate women to second class status and cater to a male fantasy. I see this over and over again and wonder -- do the writers even know any women? Asking a female friend or relative to read the manuscript and give an honest opinion would let the author know there is a gap between the fantasy he's written and the hard reality that comes with societal collapse and rebuilding. There also seems to be a kind of strange competition between fathers and sons in these books with the middle aged father often taking supremacy of position and "getting" the young woman who is nearer to his son's age than he is. A truer, in my opinion, view of how things might be after it all falls apart and rebuilding takes place is The Gate To Women's Country.

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bell5133
Jul 30, 2019

Kind of boring for the first 50 pages or so. Would’ve been more interesting if the book started with the catastrophes that caused the end of the technology era. I noticed lots of errors where people are asking questions with no question mark.

Told from the perspective of an old man (Robert). There are almost no women or young people in the town (before the New Faithers come), explained by a flu that killed most of them. Almost every character seems to be 50+, with a few under 8. Don’t think it’s realistic that a flu would spare all those old people while killing all the people ages 10-50. All of the women seem to wear dresses or skirts and spend all their time cooking. I can understand women taking a more passive role in society when agriculture becomes the lifestyle, but that doesn’t mean women would want to be dressing like it’s the 1950s. Makes me wonder if the world the author envisions is his fantasy more than his prediction.

Even though things of value are hard to come by in this new world, there seems to be no shortage of alcohol. The single protagonist even has a woman (Jane Ann) coming to him once a week for sex—no fee, no strings attached. Sounds like every man’s fantasy. Most women don’t want to be having sex without pay or commitment, especially women who are as old as her (50s). The author makes it sound like this woman just comes to him because of her own craving for sex. It’d be more realistic if the man was the one making the effort to come and get some. And then another much younger woman (maybe the only one in town) pressures him to let her live with him, and even WANTS to clean up his house—for no pay, no marriage, no commitment! And her cooking is “first rate”! A man’s dream for sure! And she uses “it’s unsafe to be living alone with a child” as an excuse to stay with him, but then says “my daughter and I can stay at your house while you’re gone,” making her alone with her child either way!

And Jane Ann is so sure that Britney will get in Robert’s bed soon, even though they’ve only been living together a couple days. The reason Jane Ann gives is “Women are not moral animals” (219). Ha! The reality is that men want sex way more than women do, that’s why prostitutes exist for MEN’S pleasure! I certainly wouldn’t be jumping in some old man’s bed even if my husband died! But hey, maybe I’m just the most moral human on the planet!

I enjoyed the author’s nonfiction book, “Too Much Magic” much more than this fiction one.

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DouglasLowe
Dec 28, 2015

The first of 3 books (as of 2015) set in the near future of a US crumbling into disarray. Extremely creative but with almost no 'fantasy' element. Excellent characterization and a wonderful grasp of the 'old ways' of surviving. Doug Lowe

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sdburgler
Oct 22, 2015

I find this series engrossing. James Kunstler does a great job of setting you in this small New York town and witnessing it's rebirth. I found myself wondering 'what would I do' time and time again.

WVMLStaffPicks Oct 26, 2014

An unusual post-apocalyptic novel where the disaster has happened several years before the story starts. The book is set in a small northern New York town where the people must figure out how to live in a world without electricity or what used to be common things such as coffee, lemons, and cars, a world with a much smaller population. As the jacket says, "The future is not what you expect. But it is not necessarily something to fear."

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tserofin
May 27, 2013

I couldn't put this book down. The few flaws I could identify (such as women consigned to the kitchen and none in positions of authority) were more than made up for by the rich descriptions of people learning to live and thrive in a post-apocalyptic world.

BPLNextBestAdults May 30, 2011

In "The World Made By Hand" by James Howard Kunstler, the reader is painted a detailed portrait of life in post-WW III upstate New York, and the gritty consequences that the breakdown of the government and the economy would have on everyday domestic living. What would society look like without the modern economic infrastructure upon which we rely: government, order, electricity, gas, oil, plastic...?

The future, as Kunstler sees it, is one of violence and lawlessness, though salvageable through faith and hope. While all might not be completely lost, his world is grim enough to make us seriously consider how we would get by in a world made by hand.

Highly recommended for fans of Cormac McCarthy's "The Road" or Margaret Atwood's "Oryx and Crake".

For your consideration: violent descriptions.

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bell5133
Jul 30, 2019

bell5133 thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over

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jarmerap
Nov 17, 2014

jarmerap thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over

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