Tuesday, April 14, 2009

"World Made by Hand" by James Howard Kunstler

Who knew that a society left grossly dismantled from a world fight over oil would be so wonderful to read about? No electricity, no cars, no novocaine, and certainly no government. This is the setup of World Made by Hand.

The story is definitely not without conflict. But there's a certain contentment in this small gathering of people in upstate New York who've returned to a bucolic sort of existence. For them, it works because they work together. They trade, they make sandals out of old car tires, they help out those who--for various reasons--are even less well off than the majority.

Bryan was recently telling his mother about Not Buying It, a book about a woman who buys no consumables for a year (the very notion suitably appalled said mother-in-law). And the idea is a huge undertaking, but it harps back to a simpler existence, which World Made by Hand manages to make seem not half bad.

I thought the book might veer too far into a didactic tale of woe based on the world's current reliance on fossil fuels, but it really stuck to the characters and their plights, rather than shaking its finger at the reader's SUV and high-def TV. Although I did think the end fell apart a bit.

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