Fine propaganda.
Not so great.

Small-town life: is it for you?

Somewhere in the fog of our first few weeks with CRjr I read a nifty little book titled Habits of the Heartland: Smalltown Life in Modern America by Lyn C. Macgregor. I really enjoyed it, but as I read it in bits and pieces, primarily around 3 and 6 a.m., and with only the amount of attention left over after worrying about the baby (Is he eating right? Is he gaining weight? Who is the genius who gave me a tiny little frail thing to care for?), you'll forgive me if I can't remember much of it.

It's more of a sociological treatise* than it is a recreational read, and it's published by the Cornell University Press, so it may not be for everyone who likes their nonfiction more drenched in narrative. But it was fascinating, and very accessible to read. Macgregor spent a fair amount of time living and working in the small-town community of Viroqua, Wisconsin** (population 4000 and change), and reports back on the very different social groups she found interacting there--from the "Alternatives" who consciously chose Viroqua for its small-town values and its Waldorf school, to the "Regulars," long-time Viroqua families and residents who live there because they have always lived there.

Anyone with an interest in community life and how groups of people REALLY interact might find a lot to consider here. It was also interesting enough to take my mind off pressing issues like baby poo colors and the efficacy of varying swaddling techniques, which I must say I appreciated.

*You know you're a total nerd for sociological treatises when you find yourself reading books like this and recognizing text references by author names alone--"Hm, Putnam, I wonder if she means his book Bowling Alone." Yes, she did. I LOVE sociological treatises.

**Another reason for my interest. You don't find a whole lot of book-length sociological nonfiction about Wisconsin.