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“Acid West is a freaky, stylish, heart-cracking-open book about the beautiful and bonkers badlands of the Southwest. Josh Wheeler’s essays throb with radioactive resonance and the Technicolor brilliance of a desert sunset. I’m in awe of this book.”
Claire Vaye Watkins, author of Gold, Fame, Citrus
"It's been a long wait for Joshua Wheeler's first book but it would have been worth the wait even if we'd had to wait twice as long. Full of fine lines mined by a still-young writer, Acid West is worth its weight in gold."
Geoff Dyer, author of Out of Sheer Rage
"Acid West is a protest love song by a virtuosic storyteller who makes me laugh and marvel at the overlooked wonders and weirdness of New Mexico and its borderlands."
Carmen Giménez Smith, author of Milk & Filth
"Reading Joshua Wheeler's Acid West is like drinking a shot of some ultraviolet potion that leaves your brain scrambled: America appears through entirely new goggles, as both holy and toxic, fluorescent and sepia'ed. On topics from baseball to space, the atomic bomb to death-row love, Wheeler has found a new vernacular. You could file him under Denis Johnson or John Jeremiah Sullivan, but that'd be doing a disservice to the electric, revelatory claim he's staked out all his own."
Michael Paterniti, author of Love and Other Ways of Dying
"Imagine that one night at a bar there’s an exuberantly long sentence by the novelist David Foster Wallace, and at the other end of the bar there’s a fantastically implausible story by Herodotus, and on the jukebox is an essay by Rachel Carson, performed by Queen, remixed by Baz Lurhman. The lights go out, the floor tilts, and nine months later there’s Joshua Wheeler, a writer with a marauding curiosity whose spectacular debut collection raids American history, cosmology, family lore, Hollywood, aeronautics, video games, and even the landscape itself in order to fashion for his beloved Southern New Mexico a vision of the world that could not exist without it. And in the thrall of Wheeler’s beautiful, bawdy, and roguishly charming essays, you’re going to believe."
John D'Agata, author of About a Mountain
"...like McPhee on mushrooms, lyrical and funny and astute... "
The Paris Review
"...renders the banal strange and the strange even stranger. Wheeler’s writing is mesmerizing…"
“Southern New Mexico is Joshua Wheeler’s home terrain, and Acid West is his phenomenal ode to it. ...a raucous mutiny against the notion that language should be subject to inflexible regulations."
Santa Fe New Mexican
"...fluorescent...brilliant...inventive...a book worth reading more than once."
LA Review of Books
"...Wheeler is a nonfiction virtuoso with a preternatural talent for dissecting the uncanniness of our cultural moment. ... an outstanding debut that’s sure to become a cult classic."
"...captures something vital…essays, such as 'Children of the Gadget', are brilliant…Acid West is entertaining and just plain fun to read…Wheeler is artful with such nonchalance…but [the book] could also credibly populate a university-level American Studies syllabus…"
"...a dusty rejoinder to Chuck Klosterman's Fargo Rock City... Wheeler's account of digging ditches in the caliche soil to repair water lines is a masterpiece of proletarian wistfulness."
"…alive, unglamorous, funny, visceral..."
"...prose pistol-shot through a ruminative lens... reads like the tattered pages of modern myth."
"Maybe I like Wheeler's essays so much because they, too, are stuffed with references. His essays position New Mexico as the spoke of the weirdest wheel on earth."
"Wheeler's debut is a gorgeously crafted meditation on some of the more bizarre corners of his home turf, by turns hilarious and disturbing...."
Western Writers of America
"Wheeler is a ferocious writer. He is dead-smart, does serious research, and writes in a style that is poetic and edgy...creating a rhythm that at times resemble magical realism. This book is the real deal."
Santa Fe Foundation Journal
"...a brilliant portrait of a place and a people.... written with enviable verve and erudition..."
"...entertaining... an insightful read... should be carried in public and academic libraries "
Southern NM Historical Review
"...surreal, savage, and psychedelic. "
“…engagingly chatty and seriocomic…Wheeler zips from history to reportage to personal essay …Joan Didion's bone-deep skepticism, David Foster Wallace's polymathic, omnivorous greed for information, Edward Abbey's grizzled affection for desert culture…Wheeler is determined to put SNM on the map on new terms…”
Los Angeles Times
"...if Joshua Wheeler writes about it, it will move your mind, and then your soul."
Las Cruces Bulletin
"...to put it in the simplest terms, one of the most incredible collections I’ve ever read."
"...incredibly written and haunting in the best possible way."
"...energetic...smart... that friend at the bar, astute and entertaining, who a few beers into the evening is manically rafting the endless rapids of his own stream of consciousness....[Acid West] clarifies something both simple and complex about America: it's messed up. But in some really interesting ways. Let Joshua Wheeler show you just how much."
Barnes & Noble
"...poetic, postmodern, and highly entertaining. ... Superb."
"...strangeness, wordplay, and loss saturate Wheeler's debut essay collection...if his hallucinogenic prose sometimes resembles the great twentieth-century gonzos, so does his moral outrage and yearning for authenticity."
"...magically meandering essays...a fervent medley of curiousities...Wheeler's words feel prophetic, like psalms from a place that is wild and dark."
New Mexico Book Awards
Best History/Nonfiction (Finalist)
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