Meth cooks practice late industrial alchemy—transforming base materials, like lithium batteries and camping fuel, into gold
Meth alchemists all over the United States tap the occulted potencies of industrial chemical and big pharma products to try to cure the ills of precarious living: underemployment, insecurity, and the feeling of idleness. Meth fires up your attention and makes repetitive tasks pleasurable, whether it’s factory work or tinkering at home. Users are awake for days and feel exuberant and invincible. In one person’s words, they “get more life.”
The Alchemy of Meth is a nonfiction storybook about St. Jude County, Missouri, a place in decomposition, where the toxic inheritance of deindustrialization meets the violent hope of this drug-making cottage industry. Jason Pine bases the book on fieldwork among meth cooks, recovery professionals, pastors, public defenders, narcotics agents, and pharmaceutical executives. Here, St. Jude is not reduced to its meth problem but Pine looks at meth through materials, landscapes, and institutions: the sprawling context that makes methlabs possible. The Alchemy of Meth connects DIY methlabs to big pharma’s superlabs, illicit speed to the legalized speed sold as ADHD medication, uniquely implicating the author’s own story in the narrative.
By the end of the book, the backdrop of St. Jude becomes the foreground. It could be a story about life and work anywhere in the United States, where it seems no one is truly clean and all are complicit in the exploitation of their precious resources in exchange for a livable present—or even the hope of a future.
Appalachia in the Classroom contributes to the twenty-first century dialogue about Appalachia by offering topics and teaching strategies that represent the diversity found within the region. Appalachia is a distinctive region with various cultural characteristics that can’t be essentialized or summed up by a single text.
Appalachia in the Classroom offers chapters on teaching Appalachian poetry and fiction as well as discussions of nonfiction, films, and folklore. Educators will find teaching strategies that they can readily implement in their own classrooms; they’ll also be inspired to employ creative ways of teaching marginalized voices and to bring those voices to the fore. In the growing national movement toward place-based education, Appalachia in the Classroom offers a critical resource and model for engaging place in various disciplines and at several different levels in a thoughtful and inspiring way.
Contributors: Emily Satterwhite, Elizabeth S. D. Engelhardt, John C. Inscoe, Erica Abrams Locklear, Jeff Mann, Linda Tate, Tina L. Hanlon, Patricia M. Gantt, Ricky L. Cox, Felicia Mitchell, R. Parks Lanier, Jr., Theresa L. Burriss, Grace Toney Edwards, and Robert M. West.
2020 American Book Award winner, Walter & Lillian Lowenfels Criticism Award
Weatherford Award winner, nonfiction
With hundreds of thousands of copies sold, a Ron Howard movie in the works, and the rise of its author as a media personality, J. D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis has defined Appalachia for much of the nation. What about Hillbilly Elegy accounts for this explosion of interest during this period of political turmoil? Why have its ideas raised so much controversy? And how can debates about the book catalyze new, more inclusive political agendas for the region’s future?
Appalachian Reckoning is a retort, at turns rigorous, critical, angry, and hopeful, to the long shadow Hillbilly Elegy has cast over the region and its imagining. But it also moves beyond Hillbilly Elegy to allow Appalachians from varied backgrounds to tell their own diverse and complex stories through an imaginative blend of scholarship, prose, poetry, and photography. The essays and creative work collected in Appalachian Reckoning provide a deeply personal portrait of a place that is at once culturally rich and economically distressed, unique and typically American. Complicating simplistic visions that associate the region almost exclusively with death and decay, Appalachian Reckoning makes clear Appalachia’s intellectual vitality, spiritual richness, and progressive possibilities.
Arkansas’s rich folk tradition is shown by the variety of its manifestations: a 250-year-old ballad, an archaic method of hewing railroad crossties with a broadax, the use of poultices and toddies to treat the common cold, and swamps of evil repute are all parts of the tradition that constitutes Arkansas folklore. In fact, as the essays selected by W.K. McNeil and William M. Clements show, these few examples only begin to tell the story.
Starting with a working description of folklore as “cultural material that is traditional and unofficial” and characterized by a pattern of oral transmission, variation, formulaic structures, and usually uncertain origin, the authors survey in detail a wide array of folk objects, activities, beliefs, and customs. Among the rich offerings in this sourcebook are a discussion of the history of folklore research in Arkansas, an examination of some of the traditional songs and music still being preformed, a thoughtful exploration of the serious side of “tall tales” and “windies,” an investigation of folk architecture in Arkansas and what it reveals about our cultural origins, a study of many traditional foods and there preparation methods, an analysis of superstitions and beliefs, and a description of festivals and celebrations that are observed to this day.
Complemented by biographies of reference works and audio and video recordings of the state’s folk materials, An Arkansas Folklore Sourcebook is the first complete guide to the study of one state’s “unofficial culture.”
Browse our collection.
See BiblioVault's publisher services.
Files for college accessibility offices.
UChicago Accessibility Resources
BiblioVault ® 2001 - 2023
The University of Chicago Press