Round Rock New Neighbors is a social organization of women welcoming women in the Round Rock area since 1978. Both "new" and "old" neighbors are welcome. For more information: rrnewneighbors.org [Barnes & Noble requires that RRNN's book club be open to the public, so you do not need to be an RRNN member to attend book club, and both men and women are welcome and do attend. ]

Literary Events

Literary Events

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The Friends of the Georgetown Public Library’s Hill Country Authors Series events will be listed here.
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Round Rock Public Library Book Group meets monthly at 7:00-8:30 PM. Check the library website for more information, or ask Carla.
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Friday, January 24, 2014

World Made by Hand - An Apocalypse Novel

Most everyone raised a hand to indicate that they read World Made by Hand, by James Howard Kunstler. Just a few hands dropped toward half mast in answer to how many "liked" the book. Although no one complained about anything specific, we quickly began our discussion by digging into the mystical ending, which was perhaps a "deus ex machina" tool. Although we didn't take a vote, I suspect that this supernatural ending was the main complaint about World Made by Hand. When talking with Lydia earlier in the month, she said that she liked the book but that she and other had some issues with it; and I would know what she meant when I got there. So, as I was reading, I was wondering what she was alluding to. At first I thought it might be the tortures that Karp inflicted on Loren. I didn't much like the queen-bee theme but felt it fit and somewhat explained some of the obvious oddity foreshadowed all along about the New Faith group. But then when I read about the otherworldly identical fatal neck bites, I thought the author had gone too far into unreality. These and the mystical woman seemed to me to take the story in a different direction than it had been going, perhaps an unnecessary one. I was a little disappointed. Janice said she was reading a theme of humans being responsible for our destiny and was hoping there would be an overcoming of the problems but felt disappointed by the turn the book took toward the supernatural. Dennis suggested that there could have been an aspect of radiation or something like that implied to cause some science-fictionlike mutations that would create a monster. I guess the author had to do something to stop the potential warring that would have occurred between Karp's gang and the rest of the town.  

Some of us found the story depressing at first, eg, Carla and I. Dennis said he almost stopped reading early in the story but continued for the sake of discussion. I believe all 3 of us got into the book at some point and found it to be a bit of a page-turner. This finishing of a book that seems uninteresting, depressing, or otherwise unworthy and ends up being compelling is part of the charm of book club!  

As Pat led the discussion, we talked a little more about the plot and characters and the indicated future within the story. I brought up a beef with main character, Robert, being seduced by the young beautiful Britney even though he was already quite attracted to the older Jane Ann. Looking more closely at this theme, I get a distaste for the author as a person (man). When I mentioned this, Carla noted that all the town leaders and the council were male. Marcia suggested that this was reasonable, what with so many women and children having died during the flu epidemic. Cindy mentioned a confluence of a back-to-nature world and reversion to a male-dominated society that seemed somewhat natural, considering the physical aspects of life and the implied need to begin repopulating society.

As is often the case, this book brought forth more universal realistic themes outside of the story. This time, it was the potential dangers that threaten our physical and social lives. Each of us thought about whether we are likely to survive an apocalypse of whatever type. Some shared plans they have made and strategies they have learned. It's a big topic! I'm not going to list opinions and ideas from this part of the discussion. Personal outlooks on these things can change, and I don't think any of us should be pigeonholed by what might be private thoughts or plans we shared at the meeting on this topic. I will say that our group presented a lot of interesting thoughts and ideas! You can look online to find out what the "Preppers" are doing. Watch any of a number of apocalypse movies or TV series. Think about it and/or, as Frank suggested, "Live now and love each other."


The author, James Howard Kunstler, has a number of books about our society and its precarious future. The book we read, World Made by Hand, is second in a series. His third novel about Union Grove is due in August of this year. 

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