An exclusive book club moderated by LARB's Editor-in-Chief Tom Lutz


Tom Lutz handpicks four books a year and conducts an exclusive book club with LARB members. Books are shipped to your door in advance. The book club meeting is held on Facebook; the author joins the meeting for a day to chat with members; and all are sent an exclusive interview between Tom and the author, either by video or audio stream.

For questions about Tom’s Book Club, email us at

Our Next Book Club

Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic
by Sam Quinones

We couldn't be happier to announce that Sam Quinones’s Dreamland is our next selection for Tom's Book Club! This astonishing and monumental work was just announced as a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and, appropriately, is the club's first foray into narrative non-fiction.

Copies of the book will be mailed to all our book club members soon. Stay tuned for more news about when Mr. Quinones will join our group discussion on Facebook.

A special thanks to Mr. Quinones, and Bloomsbury Publishing.

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About the Book

In 1929, in the blue-collar city of Portsmouth, Ohio, a company built a swimming pool the size of a football field; named Dreamland, it became the vital center of the community. Now, addiction has devastated Portsmouth, as it has hundreds of small rural towns and suburbs across America—addiction like no other the country has ever faced. How that happened is the riveting story of Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic.

Acclaimed journalist Sam Quinones weaves together two riveting tales of capitalism run amok whose unintentional collision has been a catastrophic opiate epidemic.The unfettered prescribing of pain medications during the 1990s reached its peak in Purdue Pharma’s campaign to market OxyContin, its new, expensive—extremely addictive—miracle painkiller.

Meanwhile, a massive influx of black tar heroin—cheap, potent, and originating from one small county, Xalisco, Nayarit, on Mexico’s west coast and independent of any drug cartel, assaulted small town and mid-sized cities across the country, driven by a brilliant, almost unbeatable marketing and distribution system. Together these phenomena continue to lay waste to communities from Tennessee to Oregon, Indiana to New Mexico.

Finally, though, Quinones finds hope in the same Rust Belt river town that led the country into the opiate epidemic – Portsmouth, Ohio, where townspeople are turning away from dependence and toward economic as well as municipal self-reliance, and, with that, recovery.

Introducing a memorable cast of characters—pharma pioneers, young Mexican entrepreneurs, narcotics investigators, survivors, and parents —Quinones shows how these tales fit together.

Dreamland is a revelatory account of the corrosive threat facing America and its heartland.

“Many nonfiction books are padded magazine features, but Dreamland, the three-pronged story of how heroin addiction became epidemic in small-town America, is the book Quinones had to quit his job at the L.A. Times to write. You won’t find this story told better anywhere else, from the economic hollowing-out of the middle class to the greedy and reckless marketing of pharmaceutical opiates to the remarkable entrepreneurial industry of the residents of the obscure Mexican state of Nayarit. All of these factors combined to create an opiate-addicted population in small American cities like Portsmouth, Ohio, where residents, priced out of pill mills, turned to a new, and newly cheap, high. Dreamland—true crime, sociology, and exposé—illuminates a catastrophe unfolding all around us, right now.”
— Laura Miller,

About Sam Quinones

Sam Quinones is a journalist, storyteller, former LA Times reporter, and author of three acclaimed books of narrative nonfiction.

He teaches Tell Your True Tale writing workshops, and edits a storytelling webpage of the same name.

Previous Book Club Events

Percival Everett

Percival Everett Book Club / Discussion with Tom Lutz

December 12, 2015

Viet Thanh Nguyen

Viet Thanh Nguyen Book Club / Discussion with Tom Lutz

August 29, 2015

Jane Smiley

Jane Smiley Book Club / Discussion with Tom Lutz

June 16, 2015