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The Witch of Hebron : A World Made by Hand Novel
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 last two years he has been the focus of a long profile in The New Yorker, the subject of a full-page essay in The New York Times Book Review, and his wildly popular blog and podcast have made him a sought-after speaker who gives dozens of lectures and scores of media interviews each year.
Now, in the sequel to his best-selling 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.
"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."
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September 09, 2007
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Excerpt from The Witch of Hebron by James Howard Kunstler
A boy and a yellow dog made their way up a dirt path along the Battenkill River, a tributary of the Hudson. In the low water this time of year, some gravel bars lay exposed, as bright and clean as the beaches on desert isles, and many fine trout lurked unmolested in the dark runs of cold water between the bars. In a little while the boy came to the edge of town, marked by the ruins of an old strip mall. All that remained of the Kmart sign were the letters that spelled ART. Though his mother and father had explained these things to him, the strange idea persisted in him that this had once been some kind of great bazaar at which objects of art were bought and sold. He knew that in the old times, everybody had a lot more money and things. He knew that there had been many machines besides cars that ran on a liquid called oil that, for various reasons, had become impossible to get in the new times. The sharp break between the old times and the new times was something his parents carried with them constantly, like a wound that refused to heal.
The rusty skeleton of an old car squatted deep in the poplar scrub behind the remnants of the Kmart building. Somehow the car had escaped the Great Collecting that occurred years before, when the nation was hard up for steel to prosecute a war in the Holy Land. The boy hardly remembered that, but he sometimes visited the car, regarding it with the same morbid awe as the skeleton of a large mammal that had crawled into the woods to die.