I've now finished Jim Kunstler's latest, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I'll just mention a few disconnected things that I liked.
The world that he's imagined looks a bit like the 19th century, but with the occasional nylon rope or carbon fiber fishing rod thrown in, salvaged from the "old times," i.e. today. The high-tech items are irreplaceable in the new times, and are very much treasured. In contrast, much of the old times clothing which is still being worn seems absolutely ridiculous. In the middle of a scene in which three men are reviving a woman who's almost been killed, one of them runs to find her some more clothing. He comes back with, among other things, a shirt featuring the Bugs Bunny Road Runner, with a speech bubble reading "beep beep." In contrast to the rather dark drama which is unfolding, the shirt seems incredibly stupid. And there among the descriptions of gorgeous landscapes and life-and-death struggles you have the guy in the Ben & Jerry's T-shirt with cows on it. The inanity seems almost offensive.
The central importance of food comes through just because of the number of times it's described, which is constantly. That's not a complaint-- it's interesting. Roasted dandelion root "coffee" and peppermint tea; chili pepper jelly (since there's no pepper); salads of lettuce and rocket (arugula) dressed in buttermilk, honey, and cider vinegar dressing (oil is very scarce); applejack, plum brandy, and corn whiskey; wheels of hard cheese; ramekins of butter; and crocks of sauerkraut and pickles. Again, there are the intrusions from the 20th century; one man uses his old refrigerator as a meat smoker, since the electric has been off entirely for months. Everyone has a kitchen garden and chickens, many families have a goat, and -- if they're really lucky -- a cow. It's October in the book, and people are relishing the last of the fresh salads, very much aware that they won't have them again till early spring when the dandelions emerge. Where food is an afterthought today-- just a matter of which drive-through to visit, oftentimes-- the procurement of food is a constant task in the book, but it's also one of the main sources of pleasure. Coffee, black tea, pepper, and cinnamon are very much missed. (There's also a reminiscence about ordering a Bloomin' Onion and a rack of ribs at the Outback, back in the old times. This was pretty funny, since it's hard to imagine Kunstler having eaten these before.)
Children in the book seem to get older faster, which is something I would expect, since I've read John Taylor Gatto on the subject of "extending childhood" via public schooling (a scheme dating back to the early 20th century). During harvest season the one-room school is held only half a day, since the children are needed at home.
Holidays are much more important, even Halloween. The passage of time is meaningful to everyday life in a way that it isn't today, so this only makes sense.
The plot and characters are entertaining as well, as are the linguistic changes (there's been a return of "dalgurned," "ding-danged," "this here" and "sumbitch," but only among the religious sect). But I really just loved being immersed in an imagined future which is both better and worse than ours today. And I think it's useful, too, because it's merely an exaggerated version of what a country staring down peak oil and hyperinflation is actually looking at: massive re-localization and simplification. Let's hope it happens as slowly as possible so we have more time to adapt than the people in Kunstler's last two novels.