The Quality of Life Reportby Meghan Daum
Meghan Daum's unforgettable debut novel brings her sharp wit and courageous social commentary to the story of Lucinda Trout, a New York television reporter in search of greener pastures. Moving to the slower- paced, friendly, and vastly more affordable Midwestern town of Prairie City, Lucinda zealously creates a series of televised reports for her New York audience… See more details below
Meghan Daum's unforgettable debut novel brings her sharp wit and courageous social commentary to the story of Lucinda Trout, a New York television reporter in search of greener pastures. Moving to the slower- paced, friendly, and vastly more affordable Midwestern town of Prairie City, Lucinda zealously creates a series of televised reports for her New York audience about her newfound quality of life. But when Lucinda falls for eccentric local Mason Clay, her naïveté about the real world leads her down an unexpected path, where she encounters, among other things, a drafty old farmhouse filled with children, an ever-growing menagerie of farm animals, and the harshest winter the region has seen in twenty years. In other words, simplicity just isn't as simple as it is cracked up to be, and "quality of life," Lucinda learns, is much more complicated than she ever imagined.
Author Biography: Meghan Daum, author of the essay collection My Misspent Youth, has written for numerous publications, including The New Yorker, Harper's, Vogue, O, Glamour, and GQ, and has contributed to NPR's Morning Edition and This American Life.
- Viking Penguin
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.14(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.63(d)
- Age Range:
- 18 Years
Read an Excerpt
Open Arms, Open Minds
"My rent is being raised to twenty-one hundred a month," I said.
"Can't you ask your parents for money?"
"Faye, you know my parents are retired schoolteachers."
"Well, then I guess you'll have to move to Queens," she said. "Can you redo this memo for me?"
I took the memo and got up to leave.
"Can you pick up my ashtray?" Faye asked.
"Faye, I'm not your assistant anymore."
Faye was on her fifth temp in fourteen months, a sweet woman who had made the mistake of wearing a plastic tortoise-shell headband to her first day of work.
"I don't want that girl coming in here," Faye whispered, an inch-long ash breaking off her cigarette and landing on her Palm Pilot. "I'm serious. It messes up the feng shui thing in here."
The prospect of the show's moving in a serious, more humanitarian direction slightly abated my dismay over the hopelessness of getting a raise. I went to my desk and did an Internet search on drug rehab facilities in the Midwest. I then left messages with twelve clinic receptionists in places like Missouri, South Dakota, and Kansas, seven of whom were themselves in recovery and wanted to discuss their drug abuse at length. These discussions effectively completed my preliminary research. I rewrote Faye's memo and then typed up my own.
To: Up Early staff From: Lucinda Trout Re: Methamphetamine: It's Cheap, It's a Quick High, and It's Endangering Women's Lives Methamphetamine, also known as crank, speed, ice, amp, blue belly, white cross, white crunch, albino poo, al tweakened long, beegokes, and bikerdope, among other slang terms, is a powerful psychostimulant that causesincreased energy, appetite suppression, insomnia, and, when used over a long period of time, permanent brain damage and possibly death. Once associated with railroad construction and factory workers, meth is now the only drug in the United States that is abused more readily by women than by men. Today it has reached a purity level that makes it up to 80 times more powerful than the crystal meth of the 1960s and 70s. Labs are often set up in abandoned farmhouses, where the putrid odor of the chemicals (which include common household products and agricultural fertilizers) can go undetected. This story will contain in-depth interviews with articulate, wholesome-looking women who found themselves sucked into the vortex of drug abuse and despair. I also envision long shots of cornfields and big sky (evocative of the paintings of Andrew Wyeth) with slow pans (underscored by Aaron Coplandesque music) across rustic farmhouses that belie the illicit debauchery festering inside.
The first person to call me back was Sue Lugenbeel. She was from some place called Prairie City and ran something called the Prairie City Recovery Center for Women. She said she had subjects for me. They would talk and appear on camera. She really wanted to help get the message out.
If only I had been away from my desk when Sue Lugenbeel called. If only the first clinic director to return my call had been some no-personality lout from some shabby town that I'd actually heard of and was therefore less exotic. But no. It was Sue. In Prairie City. I was on a plane with a cameraman the next morning. And from there began the end of my life as I'd known it.
from The Qualilty of Life Report by Meghan Daum, Copyright © 2003 by Viking Press, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., all rights reserved, reprinted with permission from the publisher.
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