Back to the Post-Apocalypse!

With November coming 'round tomorrow, I realize my chances of re-starting the post-apocalyptic reading group for November 1 are probably pretty faint ;-). Again, this is pretty much a reflection of where my brain is these days. I *meant* to get us started for ummm...tomorrow. But while I realize my readers are a brilliant and uniquely talented bunch, probably obtaining and reading the novel by tomorrow is a little unfair. I would, of course, never suggest that your genius blogiste couldn't do it.

So, here is my official announcement - we're getting started again as of December 1, and I can't resist making the first read James Howard Kunstler's _The Witch of Hebron_ which I've already commented a bit on over at ye olde blogge.

Following up on the peak oil theme for January 1, we're going to read Kurt Cobb's new e-book _Prelude_ which is actually not a post-apocalyptic novel, but a pre-apocalyptic novel - a peak oil thriller. But since foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds and Emerson said so, I feel completely free to inconsistently say that Cobb's novel counts.

After that, we'll do a mix of my selections from your long list of excellent suggestions and probably some democratic voter choice. I'm looking forward to my once-a-month doom fix, aren't you?


More like this

The best pre/post apocalyptic book I've read in a while is Daemon by Daniel Suarez

Shouldn't one read before taking on The Witch of Hebron? I started World a few months ago and didn't get very far; I stopped when other, more immediate, reading needs caught me. But can one read Witch without first understanding the kind of world Kunstler paints in the earlier novel?

I don't know what happened to my post; since I can't edit it here, I'll try again. Shouldn't one read World Made By Hand before taking on The Witch of Hebron? I started World a few months ago and didn't get very far; I stopped when other, more immediate, reading needs caught me. But can one read Witch without first understanding the kind of world Kunstler paints in the earlier novel?

Hi Don - I haven't the faintest idea, but I guess we'll find out, right? Seriously, I'm not going to require background reading, and I have read TWMBH, so I can't tell you. We'll just have to see how it goes, right?


If peak-oil thrillers now constitute a genre, I think Last Light by Alex Scarrow should be on the list. Disturbingly plausible (apart from the secret global conspiracy of course ;)

By sealander (not verified) on 31 Oct 2010 #permalink

I swore I wasn't going to read Kunstler's blog anymore, after his championing of Israeli brutality towards Palestinians in Gaza a couple years ago, but after awhile I started reading him on Mondays once again. I love the way that he rants against tattooing; saying that it used to be only cannibals, pirates & whores who were tattooed and how widespread tattooing portends the breakdown of civil society. Well, I believe that I prefer the company of cannibals, pirates & whores to that of socialized civilazados, tattooed or not. His weekly blog is good for a hoot but I'm sure not going to waste my time on his book length fiction.

I recently reread Annie Dillard's Pilgrim at Tinker Creek (1974) and have been reading excerpts from Thoreau's journal. Bartram's Travels (1791) is on the docket for this winter. In nonfiction I'm reading James Valentine's Origin of Phyla (2006). Journals that I regularly peruse include Copeia & Systematic Zoology.

I refrained from chiming in with recommendations on the dystopian or post-apocalyptic theme, but please consider the work of Doris Lessing, especially her 1974 Memoirs of a Survivor, which she described as her "dream autobiography." The character of Hugo the cat-dog, who is in constant danger of being eaten by feral children, is I believe rather unique in literature. Lessing won the Nobel Prize for literature in 2007, which she richly deserved. Her best works, however, are her tales of growing up in apartheid Rhodesia, as collected in her African Stories (1964) and other later collections. Her descriptions of the suffering imposed on Africans by their white overlords is blood curdling, and may well offer insight into conditions in the resource depleted near future.

By darwinsdog (not verified) on 31 Oct 2010 #permalink

Oh Sharon, I don't know what to do. I read all your blog posts and I agree with all the facts, and I love all your great work advice on growing food sustainably, and I love that you live your principles so well, but I just can't stand this tone of plastic glumness in anticipation of the crumbling of civilization. I don't have the emotionial resilience to spend my time reading post-apocalyptic books and contemplating a world where life expectancy goes back to 25. I'm committed to preparing for the worst, but I can't celebrate it. I also can't easily proceed with my life without have hope for a little contiuned technological comfort for the friends I'm going to leave behind. So I'm going to work quietly for the best future we can practicably achieve.

Sharon--sounds good. I'm looking forward to reading some fiction again. I've been away from it too long.

This one has always been my favorite- although it doesn't deal much with peak oil issues:

A Canticle for Leibowitz -

by Walter M. Miller Jr.

Maybe not your typical post-apocalyptic novel, so it probably won't make the list, but Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell is a really incredibly good book some of which takes place in the post-apocalypse. Very highly recommended.

I really wish that you would pick books that have been out a bit longer - I'm sure my library won't have Witch and I can't get it by ILL until it has been in circulation for 6 months.

Agree with owlfan; the first is out only in hardcover and the second hasn't been published (on paper) yet. Hope to catch up with you later, though.

I'm with roundbelly (above). I read Canticle for Leibowitz a couple of months ago, on the recommendations of this same list. It is very good. I have not been much impressed with my tiny contact with Kunstler's work, but I'll try it. Thanks.

By Eric in Kansas (not verified) on 31 Oct 2010 #permalink

Crunchy: LOL!!

I'm not trying to defend Kunstler, but from what little I've read of his fiction, the writing style and tone therein are completely different from that of the weekly screeds he puts out on Clusterf**k Nation. You might be surprised.

Post-apocalyptic novel club is supposed to be fun, if you don't enjoy them, don't read them. Don't want goats? Don't get goats. Don't like broccoli? Grow carrots. Seriously, folks, it ain't mandatory!

We will do some books that have been out a *long* time later on - in this case, I have to read _Witch of Hebron_ whether I like it or not (since Kunstler is already using obscenities with my name because of what I wrote about the last one ;-)), so y'all have to suffer. As for Cobb's book, I think a lot of you will want to read it - the reason to read this book, besides the fact that its interesting in its own right, is that it is the book you can give your MIL and your sister who don't believe in peak oil.



owlfan, have you checked your library? I just reserved one of two copies from mine, and it isn't a library that normally has obscure titles, so you might be pleasantly surprised.

I should know better than to eat at my computer. Especially during this blog. I *almost* snorted milk out my nose. No, you didn't say anything especially funny, it's that I *just* finished Hebron! Like an hour ago. So apparently I'm right on schedule!

I found it to be an interesting picture of several aspects of the potential future. The descriptions of what people ate were particularly enticing and encouraging. (Not that everyone ate as well as others, but the possibilities were delightfully explored.) I think the book stands well enough on its own, although there are a few themes implying Kunstler seems to be setting up for a long series...

I'll save my other thoughts for the actual discussion.

By curiousalexa (not verified) on 01 Nov 2010 #permalink

Yea, sorry, my small library has World Made by Hand, but I have to go to the capital to find a library with Witch of Habron, and the waiting list is so long I won't get the book before it's actually talked about. :-)

And, I hate to say it, but where does one buy e-books? I went to the Prelude website, but there doesn't seem to be any mention of where one can obtain a copy. (Is copy the right word? Access? Download?)

A little help please?

Oh poop, I was really looking forward to this. I don't want to read another Kunstler book, and e-books are not an option for me. (We have a very basic internet package, with really low upload/download limits. If I exceed these I get charged roughly a bazillion dollars per mb.) In the meantime I'll keep working through all of the excellent suggestions from before, and talking to my hubby about them while he watches fishing shows. I can tell he really enjoys this as he tends to appear very very deep in thought. :)

By ChristineH (not verified) on 01 Nov 2010 #permalink

There were two copies of The Witch of Hebron left in the Columbus library system, so I reserved one of them. I should be getting it in about two days, so I'll be ready to start soon. Meanwhile, I thought I'd start World Made by Hand again. I'm already up to the place where I stopped before.

I was surprised to find my local library had copies of _Hebron_ too, so I have requested a copy. For those who have a local library that doesn't have it, ask your librarian if they have Interlibrary Loan! Many libraries have this service. You can request books not available in your local system, and they in turn request it from libraries in other cities and states. usually at no (or very low) cost to you. There may be restrictions on new books, but it is worth a shot for those that are interested!

I just checked my library website - my entire state (GA) (or at least the majority that I can access with inter-library loan) has 10 copies of Hebron and none are in my county or any of the nearby surrounding counties. I know from talking to my librarians that the book won't go out for loan to other counties until it has been in their area for 6 months. In the meantime, I've just gotten a copy of World Made by Hand and I'll be reading it.

Kunstler's books sell a lot of copies - maybe ask around and see if you can borrow one? If not, once I'm done reading mine, I can circulate it around my mail to a few people.

Prelude isn't out yet - it will be shortly from Amazon and direct from the website. Kurt Cobb has kindly offered some paper copies that can be circulated by mail to allow people who can't buy the book to read it, and also it is available to libraries, so you can ask your local library to purchase it.

Honestly, while I don't really care much about giving Jim Kunstler money, the reason I'm putting Prelude here is because it *is* new. Cobb has done the PO community a service, writing the story in fiction form, for people who won't read it any other way. I want it to get some publicity. I apologize if the the first two choices are hard to access for some people, and I'll do what I can to make them more accessible, but in the second case, the major issue is that publicity is most valuable to his book when it comes out. And if there's a market for peak oil fiction, people will publish more of them and the story will reach more folks.



Bookins(.com) has an "uncorrected proof" of Witch of Hebron available, if that helps anyone. You get enough points when you join to get this book right away.

I'm happy to announce that Kurt Cobb's new book "Prelude" is now available at as of last Friday. I was privileged to read the first dozen or so pages of his personal proof copy last week and it has me hooked already!

By Cathy Strickland (not verified) on 15 Nov 2010 #permalink