Say Nice Things about Detroit

Say Nice Things about Detroit

3.3 3
by Scott Lasser
     
 

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A novel about second chances from a writer of "stirring, poignant, and profound" work (Wally Lamb).See more details below

Overview

A novel about second chances from a writer of "stirring, poignant, and profound" work (Wally Lamb).

Editorial Reviews

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)
Susan Richards Shreve
“Scott Lasser's new novel is a moving, fast paced, economical story of race, crime and hope. Weighted by the death of his son and the end of his marriage, David Halpert, a young lawyer, returns home to the chaos of a dying Detroit to discover a love affair and his own brush with violence as the book rushes to its stunning conclusion.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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
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
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
Library Journal
After his divorce and his son's death, David Halpert seeks solace in a surprising place; he returns to his hometown, Detroit, which he left 25 years ago after graduating from high school. There he contends not only with the ongoing decay of the racially polarized town but the double shooting of an old high school girlfriend and her black half-brother. Evidence that you should consider purchasing: LJ said of Lasser's 1999 debut, Battle Creek, "All public libraries will want this," and of his recent The Year That Follows, "Highly recommended."
Kirkus Reviews
David Halpert returns to his native city and finds a new life and a modicum of happiness, but along the way he also confronts heartbreak and loss. Owing to the insistence of his father, Halpert moves from Denver back to Detroit. At first he comes to help his father take care of his increasingly dementia-tormented mother, but he's also dealing with the loss of his son Cory four years before and the subsequent breakup of his marriage. Even though in the back of his mind Halpert feels that "only the demented move to Detroit," he finds that Motor City is in his blood, for it's always been the locus of his childhood, friends and family. Although Halpert finds work as a lawyer, dealing primarily in wills and trusts, Lasser is far more interested in Halpert's personal life. Halpert discovers that Natalie, a girl he had dated in high school, and her half-brother Dirk had both been murdered just a few days before he arrived home. Lasser presents extended flashbacks in which we get to know Natalie and Dirk, and because they have the same mother but fathers of different races, Lasser also uses the two siblings to confront racial issues. Dirk's a straight arrow, an FBI agent involved in undercover drug work, and he serves as a surrogate father to Marlon, son of Dirk's best friend Everett, who's dying of cancer. At 13, Marlon smokes weed and definitely could use a moral compass. He's also mixing with unsavory types who might be involved in the killing of Natalie and Dirk. Halpert hooks up with Carolyn, a sister of the murder victims, who becomes pregnant and decides to leave her husband for Halpert. Lasser's setting ranges from the dingy 'hood to the ritzy 'burbs, so by the end we get to know the city almost as intimately as we know the characters.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780393082999
Publisher:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
07/02/2012
Pages:
272
Sales rank:
1,428,343
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.20(d)

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What People are saying about this

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.
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.
Colum McCann
This is a sharp, clear portrait of who we are now. Scott Lasser continues to shape a very distinct literary map.

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