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World Made By Hand

June 11th, 2011 by Alison · 5 Comments · energy, simplicity, sustainability

I wish I’d invented that title. World Made By Hand is an inspiring novel I’m recommending, written by James Kuntsler (Mr. Kuntsler is best known for his nonfiction books like Geography Of Nowhere and The Long Emergency). World Made By Hand

Why am I recommending this book in its own post, rather than simply adding it to Books I Love (which I will also do, incidentally)? Because it is such a hopeful yet ground-truthed vision of what it will take to craft a truly human world, a world made by hand, rather than the mass-produced, hyper-mechanized world we’ve currently got.

The book’s premise is that in the not-too-distant future, oil supplies to the U.S. have been permanently interrupted, terrorist bombs and outbreaks of flu and other diseases have greatly reduced the population, and everything has become local. No more federal or state government. Or electricity, cars or machines run by fossil fuels.

So what is left? Lots of small communities like the Midwestern one where the narrator/protagonist lives, where people work hard to raise their own food, entertain themselves by making their own music and dancing to it, and find horses more useful than bicycles (rubber tires, being an overseas import, are no longer available).  The narrator was an affluent marketing executive in the pre-collapse world, but the skills he used then are now useless. Fortunately he has carpentry skills, which are in high demand.

Life in this future world is hard, but not without pleasures. Involuntary simplicity entails hardships, but also upsides. Not surprisingly, the plot revolves largely  around who gets to be in charge in a world without official government or police. I won’t give too much away. I’ll just say this is the most memorable, provocative novel I’ve read in a loooong time (and I read a lot of novels). As my book-loving friend Christina has noted, very few of the books I read make it onto my list of recommended books. They have to say something I believe isn’t being said already. World Made By Hand does that. It gives us hope at the same time it gives us reality checks. More than any book I know, it shows us a plausible future — a natural outcome of our current world and collective choices — in a vivid, believable way, via human characters we can care about deeply.

For only the second time here at Diamond-Cut Life (this is my 403rd post, but who’s counting) I’m going to include a link to how you can actually purchase something. (FYI, I run no ads and get no revenue from my blog). World Made By Hand is available here.

photo courtesy of Earthworm

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5 Comments so far ↓

  • Crafty Green Poet

    Sounds like a brilliant book, thanks for the recommendation!

  • Christina

    Sounds like a perceptive friend!

    • Alison

      Christina, oh, you’re referring to the prior post http://www.diamondcutlife.org/who-you-calling-a-hippie/ — where you and my other friends helped me sort out if I am indeed a hippie.

      I’m going to go with your and Dana’s take, i.e. that the Arizona reader was both complimentary and correct in terming me a hippie. Your references to my radiant smile, loving nature and proclivity to dance at the drop of a hat (all true of you as well) cast the whole hippie concept in a positive light rather than a negative one.

      See you at church choir practice in an hour — I’m riding my mountain bike through the Tabor dog park!

  • Christina

    No, I’m referring to this post, actually, as in my book loving friend Christina has noted that few of the books I read make it onto my list… that kind of perceptive, clever friend.

    okay, I just love to see my name in print, that’s all. I’m busted.

  • Alison

    Christina: Happy to put your name in print just as often as you post a comment! You’re even personally invited — by name — to write a post of your own: http://www.diamondcutlife.org/a-little-help-from-my-friends-please/

    Will you take the dare, my dear extroverted friend?

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