3 of 4
Acid West
416 pages; MCD x FSG Originals
Rebelling against the picturesque and celebrating the unglamorous, Joshua Wheeler's debut essay collection escorts us through an unseen side of New Mexico—from the bereft stands of a minor league baseball game to the unfinished Spaceport America (where Richard Branson builds rockets to the stars) to an underground dumpsite where wannabe profiteers unearthed thousands of Atari's E.T. video game cartridges. What connects these disparate pieces are the American myths specific to this vast, dry region, those of cowboys and military, UFOs and nuclear legacy, and the parallels between weightlessness and wealth. Space, video games, baseball and the exploitation of land are both wholly Western and wholly American, filled with possibility and heartbreak, messy with oddity and irony. Take the pit stop Wheeler makes in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, a town named after the television show of the 1950s that lured wary participants into doing silly stunts for rewards. There, he finds a bar with some of the same beauty and confusion, where the air is thick "from years of liquor-swelled dreams that don't quite break but just get stagnant and hang around."
— Kerri Arsenault