Some people think that my use of Dreamland as the title to my book refers to the euphoria addicts are seeking.
In reality, the title refers to an enormous pool that existed years ago in Portsmouth, Ohio, a town mightily afflicted by opiate addiction. Dreamland was the town square, in a sense. Life revolved around it. Kids grew up in public, under the watchful eye of hundreds of parents. It was a place where everyone was equal in bathing suits. The pool embodied the feel of community.
I’m still awed by the letters I continue to get in response to the book. Here’s another …
I grew up in Portsmouth, born in 1952. It was a safe blessed time in post war America. I had 6 cousins in my Catholic school class, picnics with the families on weekends, a perfect childhood of Dreamland every summer day, walking home from school with friends each fall, enduring the brief winter to count the days until Dreamland reopened.
I left after high school and did college at Ohio Wesleyan where my husband and I met. We moved to PA and I did law school as my husband served the United Methodist churches of Central PA. We made semi-annual trips to Portsmouth with our three children to see family. Each time we went, the town was more depressing. Family members became drug addicts. We were stolen from at my mothers funeral. I rescued my dad from a nursing home where the facility clearly had users on staff. This was in 2013. He was not safe in his own home due to a family member selling drugs right under my dad’s nose.
He died in 2014, in PA, after having lived 92 years in Portsmouth. He knew Branch Rickey, Rocky Nelson, and the great years of Portsmouth. 4 of his six brothers served our country; my dad was deferred due to problems after having polio and rheumatic fever. I have Ohio River blood in my veins.
Thank you for making me understand a bit more that the addictions which decimated my family were not totally their fault. I worked 35 years as an attorney in health care law and I knew the power of the pharmaceutical companies and the collision of profit in healthcare.
If you would like to take on another pharmaceutical issue in the future, let me suggest Lyrica. It was presented as the holy grail for nerve pain. I am no longer practicing law as I had to quit due to seizures after using Lyrica. Facebook even has a Lyrica survivors page of which I am a member. It is another sad tail of “big pharma” all over again.
Thank you again for your wonderful work of Dreamland.
After many many months of traveling the country, reporting, interviewing, of writing and rewriting and more rewriting, I just turned in the manuscript to my book about the country’s epidemic of pill and heroin abuse.
It’s called DREAMLAND: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic.
Comes out in April, Bloomsbury Press.
I’m still walking around in a daze.
Writing a book is a process of discovery, I found again to my delight.
This is my third book. It started out very differently than it ended up.
Quite unexpectedly, it became a tale about the country, where we are as America and Americans, about rural America, the Rust Belt and the country’s nicest suburbs, about what excess will do, and the value of community. About what we lose when we undermine that which gives us community.
None of that should have surprised me, because unlike previous drug scourges this one has permeated virtually the entire country – or at least all of white America.
The story’s about drug marketing, and about our belief that we are entitled to feel no pain.
It’s also about Mexico, and the Mexican town that has devised a system for selling heroin like pizza. Making heroin convenient, and cheap and potent, as well.
On one level, the story’s about Mexican drug trafficking, but it’s probably as much about the impulse behind immigration, and the Mexican village, and envy and desire.
I didn’t start out thinking that parents of addicted kids would be part of the mix. But if you keep your mind open, new directions present themselves. So they are now. I love this about journalism.
I belong now to a Facebook site called The Addict’s Mom, where parents write in daily about their addicted kids. So many have died recently. So many people are wrapped up in addiction or the addiction of their children.
It’s amazing that it’s so quiet, because this is happening everywhere.
Given how hard this dope is to kick, it’s going to be with us for a long long time.
Hey all — An invite to the presentation of a book that grew out a tremendously successful series of nonfiction writing workshops I gave to new writers at East L.A. Public Library.
The presentation of TELL YOUR TRUE TALE: East Los Angeles takes place this Saturday (April 26) at 2:30 pm, at the library, which is located at 4837 E 3rd St, (323-264-0155).
The volume is stunning for the mosaic of East L.A. it presents, as well as the variety and quality of the stories: A vet returning home from Vietnam; a janitor in Houston trying to find her children in Mexico; of braceros finding their way north and back home again; a man learning confidence as he woos a woman; a bus rider in Los Angeles; a mariachi singing for a heartbroken family on Christmas Eve.
All by folks who’d never published before: Andrew Ramirez, Celia Viramontes, Olivia Segura, Manuel Chaidez, Jacqueline Gonzalez, Joanne Mestaz, and Diego Renteria.
I call my workshops TELL YOUR TRUE TALE. They attempt to excavate new stories from unheard communities as they help new writers over the intimidating humps that keep them from realizing their writing dreams, and push them to start thinking like writers — all by mining the stories in their lives or those of people close to them.
Hope you all can make the presentation this Saturday, and pass along the word to others who might be interested.