A portable Kunstler in your pocket
The "tragic comedy of suburban sprawl" is dissected with humor and uncompromising candor in a new book.
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For four years, a young journalist named Duncan Crary periodically trekked north from the deindustrialized but beautifully built city of Troy, just outside Albany, to James Howard Kunstler’s adopted home, Saratoga Springs, New York — there to conduct wonderful podcasts with New Urbanism’s most riveting writer.
Kunstler held forth on the geography of nowhere, the end of suburbia, the scary yet infantile look of his multiply-tattooed fellow citizens, the follies of starchitects, the need for decent rail transportation, and other topics of the times. Now Crary has sifted and organized the transcripts into a 317-page book, The KunstlerCast: Conversations with James Howard Kunstler (New Society Publishers, $13).
“It’s all good,” as the author of Home from Nowhere, The City in Mind, and other urbanist page-turners would say. The book is of such a size — six inches high, six inches wide — that you could slip this collection of Kunstler’s verbal cherry-bombs into the coat pocket of whatever defender of the status quo you happen to meet. Then savor the explosions.
A few samples of Kunstler’s views:
• On the environmental movement: “Environmentalists haven’t paid enough attention to the human habitat per se .... I’m constantly rubbing shoulders with real high-toned environmentalists, and