Nonfiction November is a book event hosted by Kim of Sophisticated Dorkiness, Leslie of Regular Rumination, Becca of I’m Lost in Books, and Katie of Doing Dewey. For week two of this event, bloggers are invited to match two (or more) books that they think go well together. It can be a nonfiction book and a fiction book, or the pairing can be for two nonfiction books. It can be books you have read or that you want to read. Participants can link their posts here.
My choice for a fiction book is Daniel Woodrell’s Winter’s Bone. This was one of those books I managed to read in the same year it was published – 2006 – and I loved it. In case you haven’t heard of the book or the movie adaptation (which famously served as Jennifer Lawrence’s film debut), Winter’s Bone tells the story of Ree, a poor teenage girl in the Ozarks with a mentally ill mother and a meth-cooking father. At the start of the book, Ree learns that her father has skipped bail, and that Ree and her younger siblings’ home may be lost as a consequence. She sets out to track down her father, but her quest throws her into great danger.
Meth is the business of the criminal element in Ree’s community, and its destructive impact is an important, though understated, part of the story’s background.
Uncle Teardrop was Jessup’s elder and had been a crank chef longer but he’d had a lab go wrong and it had eaten the left ear off his head and burned a savage melted scar down his neck to the middle of his back. There wasn’t enough ear nub remaining to hang sunglasses on. The hair around his ear was gone, too, and the scar on his neck showed above his collar. Three blue teardrops done in jailhouse ink fell in a row from the corner of the eye on his scarred side. Folks said the teardrops meant he’d three times done grisly prison deeds that needed doing but didn’t need to be gabbed about. They said the teardrops told you everything you had to know about the man and the lost ear just repeated it. He generally tried to sit with his melted side to the wall.
I am pairing Winter’s Bone with Nick Reding’s 2009 book, Methland: The Death and Life of an American Small Town. Reding’s book has been on my TBR list for a long time. Here is the description from Goodreads:
Crystal methamphetamine is widely considered to be the most dangerous drug in the world, and nowhere is that more true than in the small towns of the American heartland.
Methland tells the story of Oelwein, Iowa (pop. 6,159), which, like thousands of other small towns across the country, has been left in the dust by the consolidation of the agricultural industry, a depressed local economy, and an out-migration of people. As if this weren’t enough to deal with, an incredibly cheap, longlasting, and highly addictive drug has rolled into town.
Over a period of four years, journalist Nick Reding brings us into the heart of Oelwein through a cast of intimately drawn characters, including: Clay Hallburg, the town doctor, who fights meth even as he struggles with his own alcoholism; Nathan Lein, the town prosecutor, whose caseload is filled almost exclusively with meth-related crime; and Jeff Rohrick, a meth addict, still trying to kick the habit after twenty years.
Tracing the connections between the lives touched by the drug and the global forces that set the stage for the epidemic, Methland offers a vital and unique perspective on a pressing contemporary tragedy.