Staff Pick

While addiction to heroin and other substances has been around for a long time, the current opioid crisis really is something new. It grew up fast around the 1996 introduction of OxyContin to the market, and the juggernaut of aggressive marketing, high dosages, and powerful pills that could be swallowed, snorted, or injected got people hooked fast. At this point there are some 2.6 million people addicted to opiates nationwide. Overdoses are the leading cause of death for those under age 50, and in a decade the total deaths from opiates exceeded all deaths from HIV/AIDS. The statistics are numbing. But let them be the gateway for the invaluable stories Macy has to tell about individual users, their families, doctors, and communities. Macy is a passionate reporter and while she focuses on the western part of Virginia--the region she knows best, and which is also among the hardest hit by opiates—she gives a comprehensive look at the history of drugs in this country, traces their different demographic trails, totes up the costs, and outlines the nation’s wrong-headed and/or conflicting criminal justice, drug, and health-care policies. The heart of her book, though, are those suffering because of OxyContin and related opiates. She traces the wrenching downward trajectory of several Lee County young  people, dramatically showing how their lives were taken over by the drugs, how hard they struggled to get clean, and how many times they failed. While there are programs and new approaches that replace policing with medical care, so far, there aren’t enough statistics to see a turn in the tide. At this point, opiate deaths are expected to peak around 2020, with about 250 a day.

Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9780316551243
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Little, Brown and Company - August 7th, 2018

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Staff Pick

If Borges had been a woman, would he have written like Norah Lange? A friend of Borges and often called his “muse,” Lange (1905-72) started as a poet and became a key figure in Argentina’s literary avant-garde. People in the Room (1950), considered her masterpiece and finally available in English, is reported by an unnamed seventeen-year-old as she “spies” on all her neighbors are doing and not doing. The three women never go out and never close their drapes; they’re not exhibitionists, they assume they’re “of no interest to anyone.” But framed in their windows they’re a portrait the narrator obsessively studies, describes, and reads—or a screen she projects her own unresolved ideas and self-images onto. When she insinuates her way into their house, the close observation continues, the emotional intensity heightens, and every detail of these conventional, constrained, and emphatically uneventful female lives grows mercurial and even surreal. “The doorbell looks…as if it were spying on me” the narrator notes. Hands feel gloved or crawling with ants. Palms reveal not life lines but “a suicide line.” The narrator sees her subjects as “three wayward women, three memory keepers”; as three cards of the same suit, as “blushing porcelain dolls.” Are they three witches or three wishes? She loves and hates them. Renounces them but is “addicted” to them. On the cusp of adulthood, she sees these older women—thirty! she decides—as a fearsome but ineluctable fate. They exist “on the edge of the storm” that’s her own turbulent coming of age. Lange deftly updates a classic fairy tale motif into this cryptic, telling, spellbinding piece of modernist writing.

People in the Room Cover Image
By Norah Lange, Charlotte Whittle (Translator)
$15.95
ISBN: 9781911508229
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: And Other Stories - August 2nd, 2018

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Staff Pick

Like seas, deserts tend to be monotonous, disorienting, blinding, and endless. People can disappear in them without a trace. And unlike mountains, deserts don’t offer the incentive of a peak to scale—the goal is simply to make it out alive. So why explore a desert? For one thing, they’re not all the same. Some get as much as 35 cm of water a year, others as little as 5 mm. Some are gray, some pink—the sand covered with “a rind of ferric oxide.” Atkins, interested in “the axis where the absolute coexists with the infinite,” reports from the Empty Quarter, covering parts of Oman, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia; the Great Victoria Desert in Australia; the Gobi and Taklaman in China; Kazakhstan’s Aralkum; the Sonoran and Black Rock Deserts in the American Southwest; and the Eastern Desert in Egypt. Each essay is beautifully done and reflects the particular region’s character, belying that desert monotony. In some, Atkins focuses on the natural landscape, in others on native culture, history, the foreign (usually British) explorers, or new rituals, like the Burning Man festival. Overall, his emphasis is spiritual. He views Middle Eastern deserts, especially, “through a biblical filter.” He stays in monasteries, delves into China’s Caves of the Thousand Buddhas and writes empathetically and poignantly about the British nuclear tests that left the Great Victorian Desert a radioactive wasteland, robbing Indigenous peoples of a landscape so sacred they made no distinction between the desert and the Ancestors. This chapter alone is worth the price of the book, but Atkins leaves many indelible moments: an eagle blinded by an atomic flash, the stages of dehydration, an evaporated lake like “an eyeless socket,” the untold numbers of migrants lost in the Sonoran Desert, bodies that have “simply been erased,” the geography once again “enlisted as cordon and executioner.”

The Immeasurable World: Journeys in Desert Places Cover Image
$28.95
ISBN: 9780385539883
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Doubleday - July 24th, 2018

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