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Constant Cravings

Photo of Jennifer Haigh

Jennifer Haigh


My new book, Heat and Light, is a novel about the fracking boom in Pennsylvania. In a deeper way, it’s also a story about addiction, that perverse human compulsion to poison ourselves in much the way heavy industry poisons the land. Bakerton—the town in my novel—has a thriving bar culture, which is out in the open, and a methamphetamine problem, which nobody talks about. My character Dick Devlin worked in the coal mines until his job disappeared; then he opened a tavern. His younger son is a recovering addict who works as a counselor in a methadone clinic, and his older son, a corrections officer in a prison full of drug offenders—an entire family working in the addictions business. In Bakerton, as everywhere, drinking and drugging are baked into the culture. For the addict and everyone around him, the consequences are profound. Tolstoy's famous observation about families—all unhappy ones are different—applies equally to stories about addiction. Addicts come from all walks of life. Each journey into (and out of) addiction is singular as a fingerprint. These seven books—three story collections and four novels—look at addiction in some of its infinite varieties.

About the Author

Jennifer Haigh

Jennifer Haigh is the author of the short story collection News From Heaven and four critically acclaimed novels: Faith, The Condition, Baker Towers and Mrs. Kimble. Her books have won the PEN/Hemingway Award, the Massachusetts Book Award and the PEN New England Award in Fiction. Her short stories have been published in The Atlantic, Granta, The Best American Short Stories and many other places. Born and raised in Pennsylvania, she studied at the Iowa Writer’s Workshop and now lives in Boston. Her new book is Heat and Light.