The head of the chicken that is the map of China is more or less in the place that we would call Manchuria. Dongbei (the Northeast) as it’s more commonly known now is bitterly cold in winter, desolate, and pocked by mines and heavy industry. For this book, Mike Meyer parks himself in a lonely Dongbei village called Wasteland for a year. The village’s main thoroughfare, Red Flag Road, is marked by a “dotted line of trash.” But Meyer finds the beauty in the bleakness. He finds it through the eyes of the people he meets; he brings it alive through the drama of history; and he warms the landscape with his humor and comic timing.