This week I start reading Timothy Black's When a Heart Turns Rock Solid: The Lives of Three Puerto Rican Brothers On and Off the Streets. From the introduction:
Unlike most ethnographic studies, this book is not about a community, it is not bounded by geographical space, nor is it about a particular topic or a sociological theory. It is about an eighteen-year journey ... and as that journey unfolds, we will see how Fausto ended up addicted to heroin, emerging from his self-destructive patterns from time to time to take stock of his life, before plunging again into his addiction routines. We will see how his brother Sammy, despite occasional cocaine binges and continued street involvement, adopted a life of low-wage work organized around fathering. We will see how their older brother, Julio, ended up driving an eighteen-wheeler, making a union wage, and buying a home. But we will also see how the plunging economy in mid-2000 has affected Julio as he struggles to pay increasing gas prices to keep his truck on the road and as he and his wife, Clara, brace themselves for the looming spike in their variable mortgage interest rate. Further we will examine the life of Jorge Rodriguez, a successful, charismatic drug dealer, who has had to adjust to working in a furniture warehouse after a five-year bid in federal prison. Among others, we will also consider the lives of two of Jorge's brothers--Mundo, a street maven when my study began, who took advantage of employment opportunities to leave the streets and to become the father that his father was not, and Alexander, one of Springfield's drug kingpins, now doing twenty-five years in prison for murder.
This is sociology at its best.