There is something about Mark Boyett’s voice that made him the narrator of choice for two nonfiction audiobooks published in close succession: The Good Soldiers by David Finkel and Methland by Nick Reding. The common factors of these books are authors who worked at the sites of their stories for protracted periods of time and developed personal relationships with the people caught in the terrible circumstances their stories depict, and the important issues for America the books represent. The Good Soldiers is a deeply moving, tragic, and heroic story of American soldiers fighting in Iraq. Methland is an American tragedy of engulfing, systemic, and tragic dimensions. Set in Oelwein, Iowa, Methland documents the destructive effects of methamphetamine on this small town, and, by extension, all of rural America and the rest of the country.
Boyett is an actor relatively new to audiobooks. His talents and skills are exceptional, and his voice has unique and impressive signature qualities. Boyett’s narrative voice ranges from a baritone of dramatic tonal solidity to the mid-to-high registries where he is expansive in more nuanced ways. Boyett has exceptional timing. And what is perhaps his strongest talent is the way he creates and shapes the book’s timing with his frequent and fluent shifts in intonation, stress, phrasings, emphases, and pitch all the vocal gifts in the narrator’s quiver. In short, Boyett’s voice is actively expressive in quite an impressive way, and what is behind the voice is the narrator’s highly disciplined and methodical approach. Boyett does what the great narrators do: he greatly enhances and enriches the book’s contents.
Methland is a book of extreme contrasts. In its largest sense it is investigative journalism, objective reportage of the history and growth and destructive effects of methamphetamine. It is upfront and personal in its depictions of the people involved in the drama, and in many places it is down-home and personal. For instance, we become closely acquainted with the life stories of two upstanding and impressive young men central to the story: Nathan Lein, assistant prosecutor for Fayette County, and Clay Hallberg, the town’s doctor.
And then there is Roland Jarvis. “On a cold winter night in 2001, Roland Jarvis looked out the window of his mother’s house and saw that the Oelwein police had hung live human heads in the trees of the yard… Then the heads, satisfied that Jarvis was in fact cooking meth in the basement, conveyed the message to a black helicopter hovering over the house.” This hallucination has horrific, dreadful consequences, and Reding’s depictions of Jarvis living with these consequences are shocking, startling, and moving. The something about Boyett’s voice is his meticulously timed and constructed narration, his expressive fluency, and his ability to shift with ease within the existential extremes of normality and abnormality in nonfiction. David Chasey
The dramatic story of the methamphetamine epidemic as it sweeps the American heartland a timely, moving, very human account of one community s attempt to battle its way to a brighter future.
Crystal methamphetamine is widely considered to be the most dangerous drug in the world, and nowhere is that more true than in the small towns of the American heartland. Methland tells the story of Oelwein, Iowa (pop. 6,159), which, like thousands of other small towns across the country, has been left in the dust by the consolidation of the agricultural industry, a depressed local economy, and an out-migration of people. As if this weren't enough to deal with, an incredibly cheap, long lasting, and highly addictive drug has rolled into town.
Over a period of four years, journalist Nick Reding brings us into the heart of Oelwein through a cast of intimately drawn characters, including: Clay Hallburg, the town doctor, who fights meth even as he struggles with his own alcoholism; Nathan Lein, the town prosecutor, whose caseload is filled almost exclusively with meth-related crime; and Jeff Rohrick, a meth addict, still trying to kick the habit after 20 years. Tracing the connections between the lives touched by the drug and the global forces that set the stage for the epidemic, Methland offers a vital and unique perspective on a pressing contemporary tragedy.
©2009 Nick Reding; (P)2009 Audible, Inc.
"Mark Boyett’s narration is terrific. He deftly conveys the town’s efforts to deal with the problem and defines various key residents. Particularly strong are his portraits of town doctor Clay Hallburg, who personally observes the growth of the drug and the decline of the town, and prosecutor Nathan Lein, whose caseload is almost entirely meth based." (AudioFile)
Very informative! My neighborhood has been overtaken by meth users. Listening to this has helped me make sense of what is happening around me. I can now identify the users, the dealers and the national network people. Wanting to listen to this a second time!
I had a good friend who had a very bad reaction to methamphetamine diet pills prescribed for her by her doctor in the late 60s and everyone thought she had a nervous breakdown, while she kept telling us it was the diet pills. It wasn't until she found a newspaper article some years later about meth that anyone thought she might have been on to something. At any rate, she was never the same person, and this book brings that change in brain chemistry to the forefront.
I remember a lot of facts from the 60s and 70s of the government's involvement in regulating meth but listening to this book really put it all together for me! Every "Ah-hah!" moment led to another and I couldn't leave the book alone until it was finished.
I think this book should be required reading because not only does it make a good case about the possible role of meth in everyday lives, but it also opens our eyes to the extent of the hold of addictive substances.
This book gives you a new insight into the world of Meth. We always hear about it on the news and read about in the paper, but how it affected one town is truly eye opening. I would start with this book that Nick Reding so thoughtfully wrote and parlay into, 'Beautiful Boy'....it will all seem full circle.
I could not stop talking about this book. It is one of the best listens I have found. The author combines personal stories and hard facts in a way that keeps the book from being dry or weepy. Wonderful!
I really really liked this this guy tackled this topic. I learned so much all the while feeling as if he truly cared about his subjects. Perhaps because he was telling a story so close to where he grew up? Informative yet reverent!
Solid reporting, good storytelling, wide lens to this narrative. It's really a contemporary history of Middle American working class: blue collar without a reason to get dressed for work. Excellent on the larger forces in play, why the American myth is psychological rather than sociological, meaning, whatever happens, we see only personal responsibility.
Usually listening to fantasy, I took a chance while this was on sale. Very happy with this purchase. Some parts were compelling and while I do not live in a meth land soaked area. It is good to get an under standing why I have to provide my license to purchase some over the counter drugs.
Also provides some insight to drug policy and what to expect from the every changing drug war. But I felt some topics were rushed, could have used more details on how conversations went.
I would love to give them another chance but I must say, I did not enjoy this at all. It sounded like a documentary. I couldn't connect to any of the characters in any way. Very disappointing....
Well now I know my feelings about documentaries..I don't like them.
The narrator was very dry and boring...
I am from a small town and have heard that things like this are going on there now. I can't even imagine. This book was well written and well read and I recommend it for anyone who grew up in Smalltown, USA.
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