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Saturday October 21, 2017
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Scott Lasser's Detroit

 

continued

central focus of the book, which directs its attention to the people whose lives are changed by the crime.

Lasser's protagonist, David, returns to the city after twenty-five years away to help his father and his sick mother. A lawyer, divorced and overwhelmed by the pain of losing his only child in a car accident, he finds a city that most of his old friends have left; they now live in L.A., Orlando, Chicago, or Dallas. No sooner has he arrived, though, than he sees a news report about the murder of his high school girlfriend and her brother. While giving his sympathies to the family, he meets the old girlfriend's sister, another Detroiter living in comfort far away. Their relationship, and the way everything around them is shaped by grief and violence, is the story of the novel.

It's a good story, but Lasser has done something else, too. Detroit--its history and its famous struggles with the decline of industry, the pressures of new forms of segregation, the devastations of drugs and poverty, and the faint indications of hope--becomes a character in itself, shaping and changing the action. When someone asks David why he stays in the city, he says, "For me, this is the only real place." He continues:

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