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I run the book club at my school. Each semester we read a book and meet twice for discussion. This semester we’re reading Methland, by Nick Reding—a New York Times bestseller that reveals what meth has done to one entirely unfortunate town in Iowa.
Now that book club members are finishing the first half of Methland, it’s time for the book club president (moi) to come up with some discussion questions for our first meeting. Since I've finished those and locked them in the vault for unveiling later in the week, I had time to put together an alternative list in case the first set falls flat. I invite you to read and critique these questions before I bring them to my group:
1. Rank the following in order of shock value:
a. In the late 90’s, many Iowan farmers quit farming and started making meth. This is where the term “barnburner” comes from.
b. “Nazi cold” meth is named after the Nazis who took it in order to endure the brutality of slaughtering people. Today, Iowans take it in order to endure the brutality of slaughtering cows.
c. Nursing home residents in Iowa are often given opiates so that they don’t wake up when staff members are “batching” meth in the cafeteria. The average wait time for admittance into an Iowan nursing home is fifteen years.
d. The most common hallucination a tweaker has involves looking out his front window to see live human heads hanging in the trees. These are informants.
e. In the 1990’s, America invited Mexican citizens to the U.S. to work in the meatpacking and agricultural industries. That’s right: invited.
2. True or False: If you strap a soda bottle with meth ingredients onto the back of a mountain bike and ride really hard, you end up with homemade ice cream.
3. Why is the average American hesitant to flush a few leftover prescription drugs down the toilet when apparently half the population of Iowa is throwing five pounds of toxic waste into the kitchen trash daily?
4. When you read about the meth-addled man who at first thought his burning flesh was egg white, did you think, “He’s toast!”
5. In the book, meth is described as “twenty times better than sex” and is said to produce a “fully body orgasm”. Have you ever had a full-body orgasm? Please tell us about it.
6. Lori Arnold, Tom Arnold’s sister, ran a meth empire in Iowa. Did you know that? Draw connections between Lori Arnold’s career as a meth distributor and anything that Roseanne Barr has ever done.
7. During the 80’s, many people left the Midwest to resettle in California. Some of these folks began transporting meth back to their home states to make extra money on the side. Are you still doing this?
8. Do you feel that your inability to interact with other human beings is the result of your parents leaving you in your crib for seven-day stretches? Do you currently sleep in a crib but are unsure why?
9. The author often uses the acronym “DEA”, which stands for Drug Enforcement Administration. Sometimes the author uses the word “the” before “DEA” (the DEA) and sometimes he leaves it off (as in, “DEA failed again”). Does the author’s capricious use of “the” before “DEA” make your blood boil like the guy’s blood in question 4?
10. In the 1960’s, following raucous Saturday nights at the Pink Pussycat strip club in Oelwein, Iowa, the owner would make the strippers go to church on Sundays and sit in the front pew. Do you relate to those strippers in any way? Please explain.
11. Do you think that Courtney Cox Arquette and David Arquette’s daughter Coco is named after the nineteen-year-old Mexican meth dealer Coco mentioned on page nine who had been deported three times in the last four years? Doesn’t that just make sense?