Methland: the death and life of an American small town, by Nick Reding. The stories of several residents of Oelwein, Iowa affected by the meth epidemic in various ways ground a larger economic and sociological narrative that connects the rise of methamphetamines with agricultural and pharmaceutical industry consolidation and patterns of migration. Because I’m always a sucker for a journalist’s personal connection to a story, I especially appreciate the section wherein Reding puts the town’s struggle in the context of his own family’s history.
More of This World or Maybe Another, by Barb Johnson. Connected short stories set in and around New Orleans that make me wish she was writing for Treme. Her characters operate in sometimes stupefyingly difficult situations, and yet humor is never far off. And her prose is consistently clear and gorgeous, as in this paragraph from the title story: “Across the river a scatter of lights. The high school’s over there, and beyond that, Delia’s house, which, if she could see it, would be in a dark field, surrounded by other dark fields, lit only by the pale fruit of egrets sleeping in the trees along the bayou. Everything is so small and far away. If she went into her house right now, she imagines it would be like when she tried to put a regular-sized doll in the dollhouse her father made for her. If she went in her house right now, she couldn’t tuck her own long legs under the dinner table without flipping the thing over, the tiny plates spilling the food that will never be enough again. She imagines the clothes in her closet and sees doll clothes, her bed, a shoebox that would collapse beneath her.”
What have y’all been reading lately?