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Acid West: Essays by Joshua Wheeler
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Acid West: Essays (edition 2018)

by Joshua Wheeler (Author)

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314618,814 (3.75)None
"Early on July 16, 1945, Joshua Wheeler's great grandfather awoke to a flash, and then a long rumble: the world's first atomic blast filled the horizon north of his ranch in Alamogordo, New Mexico. Out on the range, the cattle had been bleached white by the fallout. Acid West, Wheeler's stunning debut collection of essays, is full of these mutated cows: vestiges of the Old West that have been transformed, suddenly and irrevocably, by innovation. Traversing the New Mexico landscape his family has called home for seven generations, Wheeler excavates and reexamines these oddities, assembling a cabinet of narrative curiosities: a man who steps from the stratosphere and free-falls to the desert; a treasure hunt for buried Atari video games; a village plagued by the legacy of atomic testing; a lonely desert spaceport; a UFO festival during the paranoid Summer of Snowden. The radical evolution of American identity, from cowboys to drone warriors to space explorers, is a story rooted in southern New Mexico. Acid West illuminates this history, clawing at the bounds of genre to reveal a place that is, for better or worse, home. By turns intimate, absurd, and frightening, Acid West is an enlightening deep-dive into a prophetic desert at the bottom of America" -- "A rollicking debut book of essays that takes readers on a trip through the muck of American myths that have settled in the desert of our country's underbelly" --… (more)
Member:kurtau
Title:Acid West: Essays
Authors:Joshua Wheeler (Author)
Info:MCD x FSG Originals (2018), 416 pages
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Acid West: Essays by Joshua Wheeler

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A group of fascinating essays all touching on New Mexico south of the 34th parallel. The topics vary and the essays are full of details; in total much more captivating than a mere description would lead you to believe. ( )
  MM_Jones | Jan 30, 2020 |
(Yesterday I went to write this review and one of my cats sat on my hand, so I didn't write anything. Today that cat is sleeping on the floor downstairs, so I have no excuse unless I spill my iced coffee on the keyboard or something.)

It took me more than one try to get into this book. More than two.
Maybe even three or four. I order epubs on my kobo by size and then pick the largest file I haven't read. Or, the smallest. I kept hitting Acid West as largest (it has some pictures), read a sentence or two, and then go pick the smallest epub I hadn't read instead.

All that was a shame because when I sat myself down, not almost already asleep with a drifting mind, and said That's it. I'm going to do this and started reading, I completely fell in Wheeler's essays of New Mexico, of cows blanched by nuclear bombs, of space ports built by millionaires, of low hung houses and ranches, all of it. But the tales did require concentration. View them as an antidote to internet listicles and mindless candy crush games, a mental cleanser for an afternoon such as the ones I have here, a continent away from New Mexico, full of snow rather than sand.

Acid West by Joshua Wheeler went on sale April 17, 2018.
I received a copy free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. ( )
  reluctantm | Jan 10, 2019 |
Writing good essays is hard. It's hard to strike the necessary balance between personal and universal, between telling a story and making a point, between what's in your head and what's in your gut. Good essays have to be grounded in both the individual experience of the author and in more generalized concepts so the reader can feel welcome, feel invested. And this collection walks that balance beautifully, stitching together the author's family history with the tidal surges of local, national, and international history. The author writes about South New Mexico, a place not many of us have ever visited or even thought about that much but by engaging with events that ripple all the way across the world-- the first atomic bomb detonation, Virgin's "Spaceport" built on former ranchlands, the exhumation of legendary buried video game cartridges--the local and the global become intertwined, inseparable.

There is a palpable sense of grief pervading most of the essays in this collection: grief for the dead and dying, grief for a city and its murdered multitude, grief for the poison unleashed by the birth of the atomic age, grief for what's forgotten, what desperation forces the brain to cling to, what is passed down in the blood and bone and stories of a family. But there's no nihilism here, not really. There are reminders that faith doesn't necessarily have to be about religion but about the land, the existence of others, the hope that maybe small things can make small changes, that small stories about forgotten people can bring dignity even in the midst of overwhelming pain.

Highly recommend this book ( )
  ElleGato | Sep 27, 2018 |
A book of essays about New Mexico, I found this entertaining and unique. Wheeler explores all the people, places, and stories that make New Mexico what it is. There are some oddities and interesting facts although parts of it I felt lagged. Overall an enjoyable experience though. ( )
  Kristymk18 | May 14, 2018 |
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"Early on July 16, 1945, Joshua Wheeler's great grandfather awoke to a flash, and then a long rumble: the world's first atomic blast filled the horizon north of his ranch in Alamogordo, New Mexico. Out on the range, the cattle had been bleached white by the fallout. Acid West, Wheeler's stunning debut collection of essays, is full of these mutated cows: vestiges of the Old West that have been transformed, suddenly and irrevocably, by innovation. Traversing the New Mexico landscape his family has called home for seven generations, Wheeler excavates and reexamines these oddities, assembling a cabinet of narrative curiosities: a man who steps from the stratosphere and free-falls to the desert; a treasure hunt for buried Atari video games; a village plagued by the legacy of atomic testing; a lonely desert spaceport; a UFO festival during the paranoid Summer of Snowden. The radical evolution of American identity, from cowboys to drone warriors to space explorers, is a story rooted in southern New Mexico. Acid West illuminates this history, clawing at the bounds of genre to reveal a place that is, for better or worse, home. By turns intimate, absurd, and frightening, Acid West is an enlightening deep-dive into a prophetic desert at the bottom of America" -- "A rollicking debut book of essays that takes readers on a trip through the muck of American myths that have settled in the desert of our country's underbelly" --

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