The Dark Side of the Midwest
I very much enjoyed Craig Fehrman's literature review at The American Prospect of a pair of books about the midwest. You might as well:
Some of the region’s stronger communal traits still hold. I grew up in the same sprawling gray farmhouse my grandfather was born in, for instance—his mother gave birth to him in the front room, where we kept my sister’s piano—and while that kind of rootedness has become rarer in other parts of the country, it’s still pretty standard in Southern Indiana.
Still, plenty has changed, for economic but also other reasons. After World War II, interstate highways opened, and new bypasses rerouted life away from cloistered downtowns. Later, manufacturing began to dry up, and local farms became attached to corporate monoliths. Kids who went to college never came back; those who stayed watched their self-reliant communities turn into commuter towns or unemployment zones. I’ve always felt these shifts brought some good with the bad. It’s sad to see boarded-up movie theaters in Sunman-size locales, but a multiplex offers ten times the choice, even if it’s an hour-long drive to the city.