Mexico Reading Mash-Up


Had a great vacation to Cabo san Lucas which was just what the doctor ordered. Work has been incredibly busy — we had a multi-million dollar project to complete, and our entire office was moving to a different building — so I was very ready to sit on the beach and do nothing more involving than read a book and drink one of the many tropical drinks that were offered all day.

So – basically, that is what I did alongside having great organic chef-cooked food and my favorite sound: plangent which refers to the sound of the waves as they coil over and break into the beach. Cabo is situated so that it has enormous waves which make an enormous crashing sound when they break on the sand – waking up to this is a great way to start the day and then continue as I find it to be one of the most relaxing sounds. (That and rain against the window – bliss.)

So, along with this blissful experience was the reading. Interestingly, I didn’t read as much as I usually do as I was so bone-tired from all the office palaver, but I did have a few good reads.

book227Methland:  Death and Life of an American Small Town – Nick Reding.

A hard-hitting straight-on approach to the U.S. rural “Meth Epidemic” that was brought to the fore in the early to mid 2000’s, Reding’s journalistic background came in very useful when he was carefully weaving the multiple strands of all the different components that he found to be involved in this public health problem, and although a bit dry in places, the overall result was eye-opening when you look at it from a worldwide perspective. It’s so complex and involves so many levels that it’s amazing that any impact has been made at all, let alone any positive impact.

From my work in public health (and otherwise), I was aware of meth and its role in crime, poverty and other communal issues but after reading this, I have a more complete idea of the various roles played by international governments, lobbyists, international drug cartels, law enforcement, trade policies et al. – the list is much more extensive and more involved than I had thought. Reding also takes the perspective of how meth is affecting small town rural America, and living in a rural area of Texas, it was fascinating to wonder how many small towns in the surrounding community are probably enmeshed in this issue. And then, as DH is a homicide detective and former SWAT and patrol police officer, I see that substance abuse is widely linked with the crime that occurs. (Alcohol plays a big role in violent crimes as well as meth. I have never heard of anyone doing something violent when they’ve done weed, except perhaps over-enthusiastically open a bag of Cheetos or similar…)

Reding uses the narrative structure of following a few key characters who Reding meets during a visit to one of the small towns in Iowa. As time passes, he gets to know these guys and uses them as a thread while he introduces all the other players. Although meth seems to be rather a remote problem as I have a happy, healthy and productive life, I now see how people can quite easily fall into the trap of meth. (In fact, a person I knew at university is now a meth addict and if it could happen to him, it could happen to almost anyone.) It’s a question of choices, yes – but also other things and one or two poor choices can push a person one way or the other depending on the mix of circumstances and environment.

Obviously, there is no way that I am an expert on meth or other drugs or addiction itself, but after having read Methland, I at least have a better idea of the enormity of the drug problem and how pernicious it can be. Although this may not be a happy read, it is thought-provoking and well researched. It also came across as a very balanced look at a hot issue.

So – as mentioned, this was a mostly very interesting look at a widespread problem and I would recommend it to anyone interested in learning more about the drug industry, Big Pharma, and how a perfectly ordinary person can get sucked into that world.

Dunster – John Mortimerbook228

After having been slammed at work, I was looking for a non-complicated fairly straight-forward story to read on the beach, and knew that Mortimer could deliver that, so found this whilst I was trawling through my TBR shelves. Dunster (of the title) is an old school friend of the protagonist whose philosophy of life is total honesty no matter what the consequences. Obviously, there are unforeseen results, and so this leads to a good read involving possible war crimes, television personalities, amateur acting, and a divorce. It’s billed as a mystery, but there isn’t much of that – instead, it’s more of a drama than anything. Mortimer is a great author who writes consistently enjoyable books, and was perfect for a light beach read.

And then I whipped through an Agatha Christie (Elephants Can Remember) – good old-fashioned mystery with some unpredictable twists). I am learning that it’s hard to go wrong with Christie (at least so far).

There were a couple of other titles by a new-to-me author, but that’s in another post…

So – not the mega amount of reading as usual, and that’s ok. I had a lovely time and got to reboot a bit. Aaaaahhh….

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