Tuesday, November 2, 2010

the witch of hebron

Apparently there are a lot of books out there about realistic fiction in Washington County, New York. I recently finished Rose in a Storm, and am now starting a novel called The Witch of Hebron by James Howard Kunstler, which is about something a lot of us Homesteaders and small farmers have thought about from time to time: the end of modern civilization. In Kunstler's book oil is gone, a middle eastern war bankrupted the economy, and farming and homesteading have taken over as the normal way of life in Upstate New York. Cars have been replaced by horses, old high schools have been turned into communes, and school bus stations are now horse stables. (This all takes place in the not-too-distant future.) The book is certainly a post-apocalyptic but it's not dreary by any means. It's full of interesting characters, a faux-Christian Cult, and a society without electricity, laws, or means to live outside of their own communities. It's actually a sequel to a book called World Made by Hand which I have yet to read, but certainly will. It's so weird to read a book about the end of civilization that takes place in my region of Veryork....He writes about Orvis being out of business, walking along the Battenkill, fishing in Lake Cassayuna...it's as if the world I know and live had been flipped on its head and the only way of life left is homesteading in the wake of abandoned Wallmarts and stripmalls. The roads all detroyed by neglect and frost heaves. The wild places of highways between towns have been taken over by land pirates and raiders. It is a wild read!

Worth picking up. I'll tell you what though, if you read this you'll feel a lot better about learning to knit or can...will you ever.

34 Comments:

OpenID breezyink said...

This sounds spectacular, It's going on my book list! thanks for sharing. :)

November 2, 2010 at 5:41 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

I read Kunstler's blog faithfully each and every Monday morning. He sees "the long emergency" coming a bit sooner than I think it will, but he's brilliant and makes a lot of excellent points, and always gives me something to think about when starting my week. I read his first novel, but have yet to start the sequel, so I'm glad to hear you recommend it.

November 2, 2010 at 5:54 PM  
Blogger Jeff_in_Pawlet said...

Get my email of 10/17, did ya? You didn't answer about deer season. I have rifles and shotguns you could borrow if ya like. -Jeff

November 2, 2010 at 6:22 PM  
Blogger reneebontjes said...

Thank you for the recommendation, I really look forward to reading them this winter.

November 2, 2010 at 7:34 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

so far I am loving this book. the whole concept of a world forced into homesteading is somewhat scarily real...

Jeff, I didn't get your email? but I want to hunt!!!

November 2, 2010 at 7:42 PM  
OpenID urbanadaptation said...

I've actually been wanting to read both of his books (I do enjoy some good post-apocalyptic fiction, especially when homesteading is involved), but haven't had a chance yet. Once I get through my current novel, maybe I'll finally check these out.

November 2, 2010 at 7:48 PM  
Blogger Anna said...

Sounds interesting. I have heard of him in conjunction with peak oil and permaculture but haven't read his book. Another book along similar lines which I really enjoyed (though its not as much about homesteading) is Into the Forest by Jean Hegland

November 2, 2010 at 8:22 PM  
Blogger Jill said...

Bet it makes you glad you've got a head start, whether or no.

November 2, 2010 at 8:36 PM  
Blogger Mrs. Roy said...

Sounds a lot like One Second After that was placed in NC just outside Asheville so I had the same feeling - that it was very possible because I knew all the places and struggles they were facing. And you are absolutely right, Jenna, books like this make us want to be more self-reliant.

November 2, 2010 at 8:37 PM  
Blogger Scott said...

Just ordered it! Thanks for the recommendation!!

November 2, 2010 at 8:39 PM  
Blogger Scott said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

November 2, 2010 at 8:40 PM  
Blogger Tanja said...

Roads destroyed by neglect and frost heaves? Sounds like my (NY) county!

November 2, 2010 at 8:59 PM  
Blogger D said...

too bad he is a raging misogynist...

November 2, 2010 at 10:01 PM  
Blogger Rosa said...

I read World Made By Hand.
I found it fairly interesting until I got closer to the end. Ughh! There is a very graphic scene in there that still makes me feel sick when I think about it!
I do love the idea of his new novel though. . .
Sharon from Casaubon's Book over at Science Blogs is reading this for her Post apocalyptic book club next month .
I'll probably pass on this one. . .

November 2, 2010 at 10:10 PM  
Blogger Stephanie G. said...

This is on my nightstand as we speak. His first one "World Made by Hand" was fabulous. His blog is good too. I think we should all be listening to Mr.Kuntsler a little more closely!

Stephanie
www.simplicitymom.blogspot.com

November 2, 2010 at 11:43 PM  
Blogger bookjunky said...

Kunstler's book, The Long Emergency, is an analysis of the coming crisis caused by peak oil that everyone should read.

I usually read his blog every week, although I think he's wrong about the nature of the imminent collapse. Kunstler and others seem to think it will be sudden and dramatic. I'm not so sure. I think we are already in the beginning stages, but few people recognize it. The media keep promulgating this idea that the economy is on the road to recovery - recovery to the wretched excesses of a few years ago. It's pretty obvious that this is neither possible nor desirable but you don't seem to hear anyone in charge saying so. Anyhow, Kunstler seems to me to have a pretty rosy view of the future, one in which a middle aged man like himself can handily survive by planting a few veggies in the back yard. Having been homesteading for a few years now, I think that's a pretty unlikely scenario of what's to come. I also disliked his first book (I think of it as World Made by Hand Job), which seemed to be as much about his fantasy of "tragically and suddenly" losing the middle aged wife, only to have her replaced by a sexy, nubile young woman, as anything else. As a middle aged wife, I took offense. :P

Anyhow, he does have some good ideas and his blog can be a hoot for the writing if nothing else. Definitely find a copy of the Long Emergency and read it. It explains why technology cannot "save" civilization the way every Birkenstock-wearing liberal thinks it can.

November 3, 2010 at 1:32 AM  
Blogger Greentwinsmummy said...

Hmmm roads destroyed by ice damage and frost heave are commonplace here lol!!
It sounds a good read,{wanders off to Amazon....}
GTM x x x

November 3, 2010 at 2:16 AM  
Blogger Shanda said...

Oooo. This looks very interesting. I love your book suggestions. Thank you for taking the time to write them.

November 3, 2010 at 7:45 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

I don't know anything about the personal lives of the authors I write about here, or their views. This is my intro to the guy's work and I haven't been to his blog much, but I am enjoying the story. Very much so.

November 3, 2010 at 8:27 AM  
Blogger Tara said...

I like Kunstler's blog *sometimes*, but his fiction makes me cringe. I imagine it would be a lot more interesting to me if I lived in the location where the story takes place, as you do.

As for how we all expect things to turn out, I think that would be an interesting discussion topic for the forum. Homesteading makes for some very strange bedfellows.

November 3, 2010 at 9:24 AM  
Blogger E said...

I agree with D and bookjunky - Kunstler's misogynist views taint his writing and credibility.
I found a World Made By Hand almost funny with regards to the post apocalypse, comfortable life a middle aged man imagined for himself.

November 3, 2010 at 12:21 PM  
Blogger Nicole said...

I'm with D, E and bookjunky... Kunstler's fiction is not my cup of tea- I feel like I'm reading the man's personal fantasies regarding the roles he'd love to imagine for women in the post-apocalyptic future. I don't find those roles realistic or appealing.

November 3, 2010 at 2:23 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Thanks for the suggestion. I requested this book and The World Made by Hand from my library.

November 3, 2010 at 2:28 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

This is the first book of his I read, and I'm only part way into it... but regardless of what his characters do, or how bad they may be, we need to remember they are just that: characters. This is a work of fiction. Stephen King writes about Satanic Worship and Serial Killers and no one thinks he has black candles or bodies in his basement. A writer does not have to share his characters views, or subscribe to the tone of his book. If that was true, most true crime authors would be in jail!

November 3, 2010 at 2:35 PM  
Blogger ************* said...

Haha, yeah I just finished reading The Road and promptly became (even more) obsessed with canning food and storing bulk dry goods.

I don't over-stock anything, but as long as I have a little bit of fire and my water purifier, I could probably feed four people for about 15 days at least.

November 3, 2010 at 3:53 PM  
Blogger Maggie in Tally said...

I enjoyed reading World Made By Hand, even if I *am* a middle-aged female. I won't define him as a world-class author, but his book & column make sense to me most of the time.

November 3, 2010 at 3:54 PM  
Blogger DarcC said...

Jenna, do you know about the Amazon affiliates program? If you sign up for it, and then link, for example, this book to amazon for people to order, you earn money. Could be a small help for the barn fund!

November 4, 2010 at 8:26 AM  
Blogger kayxyz said...

In addition to high schools, I think community college campuses and universities with agriculture programs will make great communes. Chemistry labs have emergency showers. Home economics labs have mock kitchens. Agriculture and dairy farms have land and equipment already in place.

November 4, 2010 at 9:40 AM  
Blogger Ben said...

If you like these kinds of books, check out S.M. Sterling's "Dies the Fire" it was one of the reasons I really started to learn more about self sufficiency.

November 4, 2010 at 8:23 PM  
Blogger Nicole said...

While a writer does not have to share the tone of his or her book, sometimes they do. Kunstler states that it's his belief that women will revert to the type of role he describes in his fiction in post-apocalyptic real life. Since it seemed as if the post was inviting a book review I thought I'd give my 2 cents (or maybe 4 cents since this is my second comment). People have a variety of tastes- I happen to be married to someone who enjoyed this book.

November 5, 2010 at 10:44 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Sorry if that came across argumentitive, I didn't know he stated that. It's just one dude's opinion. I don't have to agree with his ideas to enjoy a story. And actually, the strongest and most influencial character in this book is a single woman, who heals, farms, and runs her own household and controls every man who walks into her house. The one guy who does try to hurt hurt is killed outright...

After finishing the book I can say parts of it made me really uncomfortable, but it was thought provoking. And it is discussion provoking here!

November 5, 2010 at 10:55 AM  
Blogger Matt_Middleton said...

Going to see if I can find the first book at the library. Sounds interesting!!

November 5, 2010 at 12:44 PM  
Blogger Matt_Middleton said...

I mean to say, the concept, not the misogyny.

November 5, 2010 at 12:48 PM  
Blogger Moonwaves said...

I read World made by Hand and didn't know there was a sequel. Another one to keep an eye out for so. As one person commented above there is one very disturbing graphically violent scene towards the end. It preyed on my mind for a long time afterwards. But overall I thought it was fairly good. While I might not agree fully about his views on where women might end up in a post-apolcalytic world I do sometimes wonder how much of that is my own wishful thinking. It will be interesting to read a book with a strong female character at its centre.

November 8, 2010 at 5:29 PM  

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