Monday, June 16, 2014

World Made By Hand.

Title/Author: World Made by Hand by James Howard Kunstler

Genre: Post Apocalyptic, Speculative Fiction.

Publisher: Grove Press.

Source: Purchased.

Synopsis For the townspeople of Union Grove, New York, the future is not what 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. As the heat of summer intensifies, the residents struggle with the new way of life in a world of abandoned highways and empty houses, horses working the fields and rivers replenished with fish.
Midnyte Thoughts:  World Made by Hand sat on my bookshelf for several years.  Finally, I felt like a post-apocalyptic story and was immediately taken in by main character Robert Earle.  Robert is surviving in a small town in the Hudson Valley in upsate New York.  Union Grove is populated by other survivors and the feel of the town is one of a friendly community that helps their neighbors survive.  One person trades their eggs, another practices rudimentary dentistry, while another has a small general "store."   

In this world, major cities have been bombed and the government is non-existent (or at least not far reaching).  There is no more way to automatically generate electricity, no gas for cars or generators, no supermarkets where you can just go buy your food.  Now people have to go back to basics.  Grow their own food or trade it.  Heat up water over a fire to bathe. Read by candlelight in the evening.  I loved the little details of how people dealt with all this.  How they came by candles, how Robert rigged an outside shower, how people made food and clothes.  

The story gets going when a group of people going by the name of The New Faith Congregation moves into town and takes over the abandoned High School.  They are extremely industrious, hard working and efficient.  They soon have a workable water system going in town and want to start making more improvements.  Of course, they want the townspeople to join their Community as well.  They seem cult-like at first but soon prove that although they are religious and yes, they do want the townspeople to come live with them and find Jesus, they are more help than hindrance and soon form an alliance with the town.  

It's a world made by hand now, one stone at a time, one board at a time, one hope at a time, one sould at a time. 

Another reason I liked the book so much is that I'm semi familiar with the locales.  The Hudson River, upstate New York, Albany.  Even now some towns are not as affluent as they once were, but it doesn't take away the beauty of the landscape.  

I loved was the supernatural element toward the end of the book that made me wonder and think.  There was no clear cut explanation which made it more mysterious.  As a character in the book said (sorry can't remember who), without all the chatter of technology from before, life's mysteries are easier to see.

Although there is some violence and tense moments, this is a quiet book about men going about their lives and women surviving along with them.  I don't think that all women be like 50s housewives if the world came to this end, but this is what we see.   I'm interested to read the second book in this trilogy The Witch of Hebron to see what transpires.  Maybe the Witch will turn out to be a strong woman.   

Starstruck over: The way this gentle book kept me engaged in the story and caring about the characters.


Karen said...

How interesting! Most of these books are all action packed and one dimensional.

Karen @ For What It's Worth

Unknown said...

I recall hearing about this book a few years ago. Sounds interesting enough. Maybe I'll put it on my watch list. Thanks, MR.

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