METHLAND: The Death and Life of an American Small Town

METHLAND: The Death and Life of an American Small Town

by: Nick Reding
Read by: Mark Boyett
Produced by: Audible Inc. – Dec. 2009
Approx. 9.5hrs (unabridged)

The small towns of the American heartland are the subject of Nick Reding’s eye-opening book Methland. Many are facing issues of population decline, below average wages, higher than average unemployment, and a uniquely American drug, as argued by Reding, known as methamphetamine.

Reding focuses his attention mainly on the small town of Oelwein, IA. Oelwein, he argues, is much like many of the small American heartland towns. A once prosperous place with an economy linked to the demanding jobs of the agriculture business, Oelwein was the perfect place for a drug that initially increases productivity. Sadly increased productivity is only a short-term benefit of this drug and then the real, and all too often devastating, side of methamphetamine begins to show.

Filled with stories of families torn apart, lives ruined, crime, and the real life experiences of just a sampling of the lives effected by meth, Reding brilliantly paints a picture of the insidious nature of this drug. In this way, Reding is a master story-teller. Reding doesn’t claim to have all the answers to the methamphetamine problem plaguing the American heartland, nor does he imply that all situations are the same – he does however, provide his findings in a well-reasoned and approachable way.

Narrator Mark Boyett makes this audio production an absolutely engaging and enjoyable listening experience. His mellow, yet consistent and seamless narration, coupled with a lyric pacing, is a real compliment to Redding’s text.

Methland is a perfect example of a nonfiction work that is really for any audiobook lover that is a fan of good story telling that is well produced. Those who may shy away from nonfiction in the audiobook format should treat themselves to this memorable and important work.

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15 Responses to METHLAND: The Death and Life of an American Small Town

  1. the writ and the wrote says:

    Good stuff, as always.

  2. Gwen says:

    Sounds like an interesting read/listen. I find it odd that meth can be seen as a good thing in the beginning because of the increased productivity, but I can see how enticing it could be to a portion of a small town population at first. I lived in a small town for a bit and unless you had an internal drive or ambition, there wasn’t anywhere to go but downhill. When you combined that with a lack of law enforcement and an abundance of land, it is a recipe for disaster.

    What irritated me to no end was that the meth problem was hard to get rid of once it started. This wee town of 300 people had one meth lab. We all knew it and law enforcement knew it, but private property and other laws made it darn hard to do much about it. It wasn’t on the DEA radar as important, but it was well on it’s way to killing the hopes and dreams of local youth. Sad.

    • Jason G. says:

      Hi Gwen,

      Wow thanks for sharing your story. Living in New England I must say that I was somewhat immune to meth other than it being popular within the gay party scene of the big cities.

      Meth had its origins in the German pharmaceutical companies that made it for the soldiers as pep pills. Only to have its reincarnations surface again in the states because of its ease to make with legal products and nothing more than a high school chemistry knowledge.

      Again thanks for sharing your first hand experience with small town and the meth experience there. It indeed was an interesting read that was eye-opening as much as sad.

  3. Felicia says:

    I love non-fiction, especially rip at your heart non-fiction. I am going to put this on my TBR list!

    • Jason G. says:

      Greeting Felicia,

      I up until this past year only read nonfiction and started blogging to sort of get me to read more fiction and outside my comfort zone.

      I would love to hear your thoughts on this title if you do read it.
      Thanks for commenting!

  4. bethfishreads says:

    I like listening to nonfiction, although I don’t tend to listen to current affairs. I’m usually listening to history or biography when I choose nonfiction in audio.

    • Jason G. says:

      I too love nonfiction on audio, but find that it is certainly an acquired taste. I wouldn’t say it’s a place for people with no audio experience to start necessarily, but then again, every once in a while I find a title like this that is easily approachable.

  5. Crime and drug related stories always appeal to me. Not that I like drugs or crime, but it’s fascinating to see the darkside of people. This truly sounds like an eye-opening story. Thanks Jason!

  6. TopherGL says:

    This sounds like an interesting read. I have a lot of family members in small towns, more eastern than these, but they are all dealing with drug issues. The younger generation are struggling with either prescription pills or meth. I’ll add this to the shelf.

    I’ve also found I like listening to nonfiction a lot more than fiction. I’m not sure what it is, but I think it just feels like a long NPR podcast, or series, rather than a story that I really need to have in front of me.

    Glad I found your site.

  7. Lulu says:

    Hey! Just stumbled upon your blog through Twitter. Glad you enjoyed this too. I didn’t read the audiobook, but can absolutely see how the book would work in that format. Agree that Reding is a great storyteller. Have you read his other book? I’m thinking about getting it:

    Here’s my review of Methland in case you’re interested!

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