Say Nice Things About Detroit: A Novel

( 3 )

Overview

“Ambitious and ultimately accomplished . . . a perfect encapsulation of Detroit’s present moment.”—Dean Bakopoulos, San Francisco Chronicle
Twenty-five years after his high school graduation, David Halpert returns to a place that most people flee. But David is making his own escape—from his divorce and the death of his son. In Detroit, David learns about the double shooting of his high school girlfriend Natalie and her black half-brother, Dirk. As David becomes involved with Natalie’s sister, he will discover ...

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Overview

“Ambitious and ultimately accomplished . . . a perfect encapsulation of Detroit’s present moment.”—Dean Bakopoulos, San Francisco Chronicle
Twenty-five years after his high school graduation, David Halpert returns to a place that most people flee. But David is making his own escape—from his divorce and the death of his son. In Detroit, David learns about the double shooting of his high school girlfriend Natalie and her black half-brother, Dirk. As David becomes involved with Natalie’s sister, he will discover that both he and his hometown have reasons to hope.
As compelling an urban portrait as The Wire and a touching love story, Say Nice Things About Detroit takes place in a racially polarized, economically collapsing city that doesn't seem like a place for rebirth. But as David tries to make sense of the mystery behind Natalie’s death and puts back the pieces of his own life, he is forced to answer a simple question: if you want to go home again, what do you do if home is Detroit?

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Editorial Reviews

Shelf Awareness
Lasser… knows which side of 8 Mile Road matters, and his intimate understanding of the city makes for a captivating novel rich with details of the local vernacular, weather, food, music, crime and, of course, cars. While the double murder and diverse characters drive the narrative, the city itself plays a central role. Detroit is not just the setting for Lasser’s story—it’s a place with a beating heart (weak pulse notwithstanding) and enough guts to have a future.— Bruce Jacobs
Booklist
Starred review. Lasser’s Detroit may be a troubled city, but it is one whose vibrant soul is writ large in the small actions of its loyal citizens. With a serene and steady hand, Lasser’s spare but intense tale is a smart, intimate homage to the power of second chances. Put this book in the hands of fans of Richard Ford and Richard Russo.— Carol Haggas
Bookpage
This appealing story may prompt some to hope (Detroit) will receive the chance at redemption that Scott Lasser so generously extends to his characters.— Harvey Freedenberg
CurledUp.com
“A mystery underlies Lasser’s thoughtful novel of a man returning to the city of his youth to assist elderly parents in distress, but only in a peripheral sense. The senseless murder of two people grows more meaningful and textured by the story’s end.”
Adam Langer - New York Times
“A tough but redemptive tale. . . . What ultimately resonates most profoundly in the novel is Mr. Lasser’s ode to the city where he was born.”
Colum McCann
“This is a sharp, clear portrait of who we are now. Scott Lasser continues to shape a very distinct literary map.”
Elmore Leonard
“You’ll love Scott Lasser’s style. His book spans a few years but keeps moving with dialogue that’s natural and alive: whites and blacks in Detroit, a setting you come to know and can feel what it’s about. I know; I’ve been here most of my life.”
Thomas McGuane
“Scott Lasser has written a moving story of people whose lives are stalled until they face events and places they’d rather avoid. His book suggests that for people and cities, life’s greatest rewards are only achieved through struggle. A moving tribute to second chances and the august, desolate, melancholy city of Detroit.”
Bruce Jacobs - Shelf Awareness
“Lasser… knows which side of 8 Mile Road matters, and his intimate understanding of the city makes for a captivating novel rich with details of the local vernacular, weather, food, music, crime and, of course, cars. While the double murder and diverse characters drive the narrative, the city itself plays a central role. Detroit is not just the setting for Lasser’s story—it’s a place with a beating heart (weak pulse notwithstanding) and enough guts to have a future.”
Carol Haggas - Booklist
“Starred review. Lasser’s Detroit may be a troubled city, but it is one whose vibrant soul is writ large in the small actions of its loyal citizens. With a serene and steady hand, Lasser’s spare but intense tale is a smart, intimate homage to the power of second chances. Put this book in the hands of fans of Richard Ford and Richard Russo.”
Harvey Freedenberg - Bookpage
“This appealing story may prompt some to hope (Detroit) will receive the chance at redemption that Scott Lasser so generously extends to his characters.”
Thomas Lynch
“In a city famous for ruin, a pilgrim’s tale of rebirth and renewal: Scott Lasser’s narrative gifts are abundant, his characters a compelling and convincing lot. Say Nice Things About Detroit, while true to life’s damages and sadnesses, is nonetheless a joyous, vital read.”
New York Times
A tough but redemptive tale. . . . What ultimately resonates most profoundly in the novel is Mr. Lasser’s ode to the city where he was born.— Adam Langer
BloombergBusinessweek
“Lasser is an economical writer who reveals character and class through details and dialogue. . . . For those who wonder why anyone still lives in the home of the Not-So-Big Three, he provides a rich and satisfying answer.”
Publishers Weekly
Detroit is autumnal in this quietly moving novel of place; the heyday, the riots, the collapse have already happened, and the city is sinking quietly. There is still tension, but behind it is a sense of emptiness and ending. David Halpert, returning to his native city in 2006 to care for his mother, who’s been diagnosed with dementia, is quickly reintroduced to this tension with the news that a white woman and a black man—David’s high school girlfriend Natalie and her half-brother Dirk, a retired FBI agent—possibly mistaken for an interracial couple, have been gunned down in Dirk’s Mercedes. Lasser shifts between 2006 and 1994 to explore how this happened, and to chronicle David’s return; his relationship with Natalie’s sister, Carolyn, and with his aging parents; the continuing impact on him of his son’s death years earlier; and to chart a growing connection between Dirk and a troubled young man named Marlon Booker. The complex divisions of Detroit are introduced obliquely and effectively through the characters—David most centrally, but also Dirk and Marlon, who Dirk feels responsible for saving. Lasser (The Year That Follows) composes his sympathetic cast into tableaux that are meaningful, even emblematic, but that, even when highly dramatic, aren’t forced. His restrained portrait of Detroit evokes real pathos. Agent: Jennifer Rudolph Walsh, WME Entertainment. (July)
Library Journal
A native of Detroit, Lasser (The Year That Follows) guarantees readers a tour of the city with all its failings. David Halpert thought he'd left all that behind when he fled the city after high school for a brighter future. However, the death of a son, a divorce, an ill mother, and the strange murders of an old girlfriend, Natalie, and her black half-brother lure David home. To his surprise, he finds himself striking up new relationships with old friends, his father, and the city itself. VERDICT Second chances, though always welcome, are not necessarily delivered in recognizable packages. One can go home again, but it's a lot of work. Readers will savor this fast-paced tale of redemption in one sitting. Actor Steve Carell has optioned the book. [See Prepub Alert, 1/8/12.]—Russell Miller, Prescott P.L. AZ
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393345537
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 7/22/2013
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 974,593
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Scott Lasser

Scott Lasser, a native of Detroit, has worked for the National Steel Corporation and Lehman Brothers. He is the author of three novels, including Battle Creek, and currently lives in Aspen, Colorado, and Los Angeles, California.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 3 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 24, 2012

    Audio version mispronounces many of the local names. Should have

    Audio version mispronounces many of the local names. Should have gotten someone local to coach the narrator, Blackstone! Star review is ONLY for audio performance and not content of the book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 16, 2012

    Great book

    The writer gets very creative with this book and its something i would recommend to anyone interested in mytery/murder type books

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 15, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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