Barrett Swanson set out on a personal quest across the United States to uncover what it means to be an American amid the swirl of our post-truth climate in this collection of critically acclaimed essays and reportage.
Traversing the country, Barrett Swanson introduces us to Americans who are contending with the aftermath of political and economic collapse and considers how the end-of-history preoccupation with wellness and consumerism has led to spiritual desolation and new forms of fascism.
A trip with his brother to a New York psychic community becomes a rollicking tour through the world of American spiritualism. At a wilderness retreat in Ohio, men seek a cure for toxic masculinity, while in the hinterlands of Wisconsin, anti-war veterans turn to farming when they cannot sustain the heroic myth of service. And when his best friend’s body washes up on the shores of the Mississippi River, he falls into the gullet of true crime discussion boards, exploring the stamina of conspiracy theories along the cankered byways of the Midwest.
At a moment when grand unifying narratives have splintered into competing story lines, these essays document the many routes by which Americans are struggling to find stability in their lives, sometimes at dire and disillusioning costs.