Literary Nonfiction. Photography by Hannah Klein. MAXIMUM SUNLIGHT is a timely and incisive portrait of the people, communities, anxieties, and contradictions that make up what many think of—now, more than ever, after the 2016 election—as rural white America. Told through a series of candid interviews and sharp observations of town life in tiny Tonopah, Nevada, journalist Meagan Day and photographer Hannah Klein create a book that is both traditional reportage and searching portrait of this eccentric and yet archetypal desert town. Day, a journalist and editor, writes with Didion's penetrating keenness for detail and Stegner's sense of the beauty and spareness of life in the west—illustrated throughout by Klein's striking color photo-spreads of desolate vistas, dilapidated houses, and cluttered shelves of clown figurines and neo-Nazi paraphernalia. The unexpected brightness and shocking depth of color in the photographs juxtapose the harshness and expanse of Tonopah's exteriors with the sharpness and peculiarity of its interiors. Tonopah is a town of former skinheads, drunks, pawnshop owners, drifters, lifers, day laborers, military contractors, and 4H moms. It is a town of casino bars, a highly classified military base, UFO sightings, ghosts of dead miners, and a massive solar energy plant. It's most notable attraction is a clown-themed motel next to a 19th century miners' graveyard. Written in the years leading up to the 2016 election, the book emerges as a vital and nuanced portrait of white identity and experience in an era in which rural isolationism and white nationalism have been thrust into the national spotlight.
Excerpt @ The Towner MagazineFeature @ Best American Non-Required Reading 2017Review @ STRANT MagazineOlivia Durif @ LARBFeature @ Reno News and Review
Meagan Day is the author of MAXIMUM SUNLIGHT (Wolfman Books 2016). She is a Ben Bagdikian editorial fellow at Mother Jones and a features editor at Full Stop. She's a former staff writer for Timeline, and her work has also appeared in n+1, The New Inquiry, The Believer, The Towner and elsewhere. She has worked at Aeon Magazine, McSweeney's Publishing and Time Out Istanbul, and interned at Granta Magazine. She holds a Bachelor's degree from Oberlin College and a Master's in Cultural Studies from Goldsmiths, University of London.Author City: OAKLAND, CA USA