When I set out to guest-edit this country noir issue, first thought I had was, “No meth. Meth is played out.”
Thing is, though, meth’s not played out. Not in the country. Not by a damn sight.
Meth is passe, I suppose, unless it’s killing your mother, unless your tweaker husband is raging at you with a gun in his hand. So while I wouldn’t say the two stories in this issue are about meth, exactly, neither could they have been written without the stuff. Shannon Barber’s characters use it to grease the pole up to the champagne room, while Aaron Clark’s dark Reverend returns to its ravages in his hometown.
Bart Schaneman’s essay is plainly about meth, though. Bart’s the Editor-in-Chief of the newspaper in my hometown and he could be running a meth update daily. Maybe one day he’ll get to write meth’s obituary. That day’s not coming any time soon.
I have long thought of country noir as a tradition hidden in the plain sight of American letters. Passed over and brushed aside in favor of brighter lights, bigger cities. It’s far easier to go chasing after what everyone else says is already there, after all, and country noir’s never had much in the way of proponents. Likewise, the writers in this issue have only been a click or two away all this time. I hope you’ll follow them into the dark, and a ways beyond, too.