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Publisher's Summary

A rollicking debut book of essays that takes listeners on a trip through the muck of American myths that have settled in the desert of our country's underbelly.

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. 

©2018 Joshua Wheeler (P)2018 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

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  • Roland
  • Kings Park, NY, United States
  • 05-05-18

In The Year of our Lord 2018

This is an absolute gem of non-fiction; a captivating, quasi-poetic, intelligent, foray into the life of a third (fourth?) generation native of “SNM” Southern New Mexico. We are familiarized through a chronology of essays about the “gadget” (first atomic bomb test), and its present forgotten outcome, Richard Branson’s ironic attempt to create a commercial space port for the “average” citizen in the desert(Virgin Galactic), the first inmate to be executed in NM after a 40 years ban, an historic free-fall from a stratospheric energy drink sponsored balloon , and personal, unreserved, wistful past accounts about friends and family. The style is sweetly cynical, gritty, amusing, and interspersed with historical allusions and biblical factoids. Actor Andrew Eiden's professional narration is perfectly suited to convey the book’s general mood.

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Best book I've listened to in 2018.

I'm biased perhaps, as I live in SNM, but damn that was fun storytelling. Give this a listen, you won't be disappointed.

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A Poetical Roller Coasting Exploration.

A trip into the abyss, chalked full of ghosts and gods and the American Promise. A Bad Trip that'll make you feel doomed, with a faint realization that you were never not doomed, that our frantic graspings of memory, and lofty innovations lead inexorably to the same dump sites as those who came before us. A journey that, while never reaching ground zero, walks around the perimeter enough to get the shape of the crater left behind by the blast. Words placed with rare effect and voiced in line with the intentions. A program that will stick with you like radioactive isotopes that have seeped into an underground well to infect the drinking water and that may be deadly to you but that also may give you a warm glow when you're alone at night, under the stars and giants, with a bottle of whiskey and a feeling that maybe you could see what it was all for in the first place. The Nuclear Uncanny both described and exemplified in 12 hours and 39 mins. Well, alright.