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IA] poignant, provocatively convincing novel.” –Alan Weisman, author of The World Without Us SOOKS & THE CULT Logical Conclusions BY C.B. EVANS WORLD MADE BY HAND lames Howard Kunstler author of The Long Emergency World Made By Hand By James Howard Kunstler Atlantic Monthly Press 336 pages, $24 ames Howard Kunstler has been writing fic tion for years, but it’s his nonfiction that deliv ered him from obscu rity. In The Geography of Nowhere the modern American cityscape, calling it “depressing, brutal, ugly, unhealthy, and spiritually degrading.” He portended that cityscape’s demise in The Long Emergency a turbulently critical period in which the United States is weaned off cheap oil. Both books are characterized by Kunstler’s irreverent tone and colorful language, and the authorial confistriking. This is gut-driven writing by a man who has found his calling. While no doubt many consider him a doomsayer or a kook, Kunstler has become a go-to guest lecturer on topics ranging from architecture to urban planning to peak oil. To date, he has also written 10 novels, though all but the last few are out of print. His social criticism has influenced his fiction before, but never so much as in his latest novel, World Made By Hand, an almost point-by-point fictional translation of the ideas in The Long Emergency. Moving beyond the realm of hypothesis and abstraction, Kunstler here conveys his vision of a post-oil society through a richly descriptive narrative. It’s as if he wrote World Made By Hand in response to what must surely be a question commonly asked by readers of The Long Emergency: What then? In World Made By Hand, Kunstler imagines an America that has already endured the depletion of oil and entered a sort of dark age. Concomitant with the end of oil is a war in the Holy Land and attacks on the homeland. The federal government has essentially disintegrated, and unchecked disease has claimed uncounted lives. The book jacket’s sunny yellow color and bucolic imagery belie the desperation of the characters within, instead reflecting Kunstler’s own attitude that the long emergency, though intensely painful and arduous, will ultimately result in a more authentic and meaningful existence for what humans remain. He challenges readers to squint past this current culture of strip malls and tract housing, beyond the terrible implications of unaccustomed 26 THE TEXAS OBSERVER MAY 2, 2008