indexCA3TZVXSIowa.  Midwestern values.  Bridges of Madison County, Postville, The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid.

Salt of the earth people in an idyllic pastoral setting.

Juxtapose this with the harrowing, gory details of the crystal meth epidemic and you have Methland: The Death and Life of an American Small Town.

It’s a problem we somewhat comprehend due to the occasional headline-evoking mental images of skinny wound-up kids.  Enter Oelwein, IA near Waterloo.  Although, with the population of roughly 6000, and a tiny barbershop/greasy spoon Main Street, on the surface it could just as easily be called Eldridge, LeClaire, Wilton, or Maquoketa.  For a time, Iowa was a national power in this citizen stopgap solution to high unemployment and corporate agribusiness.

Methland functions as a primer featuring real people of this cottage industry that operates out of backwoods trailers and gravel-road labs, letting the reader become intimately acquainted with the toothless, burned-up shells of former townspeople and the futile management efforts of local powers.

If you’d like a local nonfiction version of your favorite gruesome primetime CSI fare, here it is.

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