Mill Town: Reckoning with What Remains
One of O Magazine's Best Books of Fall 2020
Newsweek's "Must-Read Fall Nonfiction"
A Publishers Weekly Top 10 books for Politics & Current Events
"Mill Town is a powerful, blistering, devastating book. Kerri Arsenault is both a graceful writer and a grieving daughter in search of answers and ultimately, justice. In telling the story of the town where generations of her family have lived and died, she raises important and timely questions."--Dani Shapiro, author of Inheritance
Kerri Arsenault grew up in the rural working class town of Mexico, Maine. For over 100 years the community orbited around a paper mill that employs most townspeople, including three generations of Arsenault's own family. Years after she moved away, Arsenault realized the price she paid for her seemingly secure childhood. The mill, while providing livelihoods for nearly everyone, also contributed to the destruction of the environment and the decline of the town's economic, physical, and emotional health in a slow-moving catastrophe, earning the area the nickname "Cancer Valley."
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About the Author
A SEPTEMBER 2020 INDIE NEXT PICK Lit Hub's MOST ANTICIPATED BOOKS OF 2020 A GOODREADS SEPTEMBER 2020 TOP HISTORY/BIOGRAPHY PICK A PW Fall 2020 Top 10 for Politics & Current Events Pick
Arsenault combines memoir with investigative journalism in this tale of the toxic paper mill at the center of her Maine hometown, an area now nicknamed Cancer Valley.--People magazine
An imposing work of narrative nonfiction...Arsenault's account is enlivened by vivid prose, often coolly analytical and yet deeply lyrical. Mexico's melancholy story--one that's mirrored today in thousands of struggling small towns across the U.S.--comes to life in Arsenault's sympathetic, but unfailingly clear-eyed, telling. --Harvey Freedenberg, Shelf Awareness
In Mill Town, Kerri Arsenault has managed a literary hat trick, combining humanity, science, and capitalism, and the price paid not only by her own family in a single state, but across generations, industries, and geographies. She has laid out, in elegant prose and harrowing reportage, the price we may all pay, and in this, she has managed to create at once both a cautionary tale and a literary treasure. --Rachel Louise Snyder, author of No Visible Bruises: What We Don't Know About Domestic Violence Can Kill Us "[Mill Town] is about the better, more prosperous American life those industries afforded us before we fell ill, as well as the Devil's bargain that made all this possible, maybe even inevitable. Mill Town is for anyone who's ever wondered about the Calvinistic calculus whereby the elect become truly wealthy while the damned (read: poor, dark-skinned, newly arrived) find early graves." --Richard Russo, author of Chances Are... and Empire Falls "Mill Town is a powerful, blistering, devastating book. Kerri Arsenault is both a graceful writer and a grieving daughter in search of answers and ultimately, justice. In telling the story of the town where generations of her family have lived and died, she raises important and timely questions." --Dani Shapiro, author of Inheritance "The book of a lifetime; a deep-drilling, quick-moving, heartbreaking story. Scathing and tender, it is written in a clear-running prose that lifts often into poetry, but comes down hard when it must. Through it all runs the river of Mill Town: sluggish, ancient, dangerous, freighted with America's sins. This is a book about residues and legacies; I know that Mill Town will stay with me for years to come." --Robert Macfarlane, author of Underland Arsenault's pursuit of truth is as compassionate as it is relentless. The result, her book, is tender, enthralling, and, ultimately, devastating. --Jonathan Lethem, author of Motherless Brooklyn and The Arrest
Arsenault's relentless, unsparing exploration goes to the heart of American life, and I can think of no book that's more relevant to this moment in time than Mill Town. Ben Fountain, author of Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk This fierce and impeccably researched work really got my blood boiling about the plunder mechanism of capitalism and its blow against life. --Emily Raboteau, author of Searching for Zion A vivid insight to the unbuilding of an American dream, this will be one of the major nonfiction books of a year in which the debate over what America is will rage. --John Freeman, author of Dictionary of the Undoing and editor of Freeman's