The Witch of Hebron: A World Made by Hand Novel

The Witch of Hebron: A World Made by Hand Novel

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by James Howard Kunstler
     
 

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Already a renowned social commentator and a best-selling novelist and nonfiction writer, James Howard Kunstler has recently attained even greater prominence in the global conversation about energy and the environment. In the sequel to his novel, World Made by Hand, Kunstler expands on his vision of a post-oil society with a new novel about an America in

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Overview

Already a renowned social commentator and a best-selling novelist and nonfiction writer, James Howard Kunstler has recently attained even greater prominence in the global conversation about energy and the environment. In the sequel to his novel, World Made by Hand, Kunstler expands on his vision of a post-oil society with a new novel about an America in which the electricity has flickered off, the Internet is a distant memory, and the government is little more than a rumor. In the tiny hamlet of Union Grove, New York, travel is horse-drawn and farming is back at the center of life. But it’s no pastoral haven. Wars are fought over dwindling resources and illness is a constant presence. Bandits roam the countryside, preying on the weak. And a sinister cult threatens to shatter Union Grove’s fragile stability.

In a book that is both shocking yet eerily convincing, Kunstler seamlessly weaves hot-button issues such as the decline of oil and the perils of climate change into a compelling narrative of violence, religious hysteria, innocence lost, and love found.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In the sequel to his bestselling World Made by Hand, Kunstler delivers another grim and suspenseful novel set in a post-oil world without electricity, Internet, or national order. In Union Grove, N.Y., the locals and the New Faithers, a religious order that has moved into an abandoned school, co-exist in an uneasy peace. Jasper Copeland, the teenage son of the town doctor, runs away from Union Grove after he takes revenge on a New Faither's horse that killed his dog, wandering the darkened countryside until he meets a bandit named Billy Bones, who drags him along on a vicious rampage. Meanwhile, back in Union Grove, Jasper's father and friends try to discover what happened to Jasper, while the New Faithers, led by the enigmatic Brother Jobe, learn of the boy's involvement in the horse's death and also want to find him. Kunstler's postapocalyptic world is neither a merciless nightmare nor a starry-eyed return to some pastoral faux utopia; it's a hard existence dotted with adventure, revenge, mysticism, and those same human emotions that existed before the power went out. (Sept.)
From the Publisher

“Richly imagined . . . [The Witch of Hebron] reminded me of Larry McMurty’s Lonesome Dove, set in the dystopian world of The Road.”—New York Journal of Books

"[A] suspenseful, darkly amusing story with touches of the fantastic in the mode of Washington Irving."—Booklist

"Kunstler's post-apocalyptic world is neither a merciless nightmare nor a starry-eyed return to some pastoral faux utopia; it's a hard existence dotted with adventure, revenge, mysticism, and those same human emotions that existed before the power went out."—Publishers Weekly

“Vividly drawn . . . [The Witch of Hebron] plays to Kunstler’s strength, which is his understanding of municipal infrastructure, so he can analyze the importance of what has been taken from people, how they cope, and just what is necessary for them to survive.”—Steve Goddard’s History Wire (online)

Library Journal
Hearing about this follow-up to Kunstler's 2008 World Made by Hand might make one somewhat apprehensive. Would the author be able to maintain the charm and impact of his first, postapocalyptic novel? Would he be able to keep us interested in his "world made by hand"? Set in the same small town of Union Grove, NY, this sequel wins on all counts. Kunstler skillfully extends the arc of the previous novel. In addition, he incorporates an effective coming-of-age story. Young Jasper Copeland, age 11, runs away from home and falls in with some bad company. As the story is resolved and the titular witch makes her appearance, the disparate parts of the narrative fall together with a spooky yet audible click. Kunstler's future is both reassuring and utterly terrifying at the same time. Verdict Just in time for Halloween, this paean to America's past and future rings true—Cormac McCarthy's All the Pretty Horses meets Stephen King's The Stand. Highly recommended for popular fiction collections.—Henry Bankhead, Los Gatos P.L., CA

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Reviews

Doomsday survivors in upstate New York cope with a collapsed civilization in Kunstler's sequel to A World Made By Hand (2008).

The denizens of Union Grove have survived terrorist bombs, flu epidemics, race wars, freakish out-of-season hurricanes and an industrial meltdown that has spelled an end to electricity, cars, trains and cities. In the novel, a kind of post-post-apocalyptic tale, returning characters cope with more mundane threats: violent crime, crop disease, erectile dysfunction. Brother Jobe, dark-powered leader of the New Faith religious sect, is out to avenge the fatal drugging of his horse. The Rev. Loren Holder, whose impotence had him lending his wife to his best friend, Mayor Robert Earle, a software executive in "the old times," is drawn to Barbara Maglie, a madame with witchly powers of arousal. Then there are magistrate Stephen Bullock, who beheads three home intruders with a samurai sword and hangs ten other members of their gang; Billy Bones, a young "bandit" who goes on a raping and killing spree with troubled doctor's son Jasper Copeland in tow, and Perry Talisker, a hermit with Unabomber potential who, like most of the male characters, is prone to weeping. Kunstler, a high-profile blogger/social critic who sees sure disaster in U.S. oil policies, keeps his agenda under wraps. The novel is primarily an entertainment that keeps its pages turning with short chapters, snappy dialogue, sex scenes and pop-cultural references (Bob Dylan, Joyce Carol Oates, NASCAR). But following the end-of-life-as-we-know-it drama of the first book, much of what happens here feels anticlimactic, particularly since its retro-futurists think and act a lot more like stock characters from old TV Westerns than anything out of Cormac McCarthy.

A novel whose premise and stodgy storytelling may appeal more to young readers than adults.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781441772909
Publisher:
Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Publication date:
09/07/2010
Series:
The World Made by Hand Novels Series
Edition description:
Unabridged
Pages:
1
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 7.40(h) x 0.60(d)

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