In his fourth novel, Detroit native Scott Lasser delivers a poignant story of rebirth in the unlikeliest of places. SAY NICE THINGS ABOUT DETROIT (W. W. Norton & Company; July 2, 2012; $25.95 hardcover) draws a gritty, complex portrait of Detroit as compelling as The Wire. An unexpected love story about family, second chances, and the meaning of home, this is also a gripping novel about the complicated urban politics of the twenty-first century.
Twenty-five years after his high school graduation, David Halpert returns to Detroit, a place that he and most of the people he grew up with fled long ago. At first, everything seems different, and not for the better. David’s mother has developed Alzheimer’s, and his normally stoic father pleads with him to move back to Michigan to help. David doesn’t have anything left in Detroit besides his parents, but by leaving Colorado he might be able to start moving on from the tragic death of his young son four years earlier and his subsequent divorce.
Once back in Detroit, trying to put the pieces of his life back together, David spots a newspaper story reporting that his high school sweetheart, Natalie, and her black half-brother have been shot and killed. This terrible catalyst begins David’s journey through Detroit’s white suburbs and black inner city as he and Natalie’s sister Carolyn reconnect, find solace in each other, and try to make sense of the mystery behind the murders.
SAY NICE THINGS ABOUT DETROIT takes place in a racially polarized, economically collapsing city, which itself becomes one of the novel’s most compelling characters. Lasser takes us on an in-depth tour of Detroit’s decaying urban landscape, setting a powerful tale of redemption and new hope in a neglected city that rarely finds itself as a backdrop for fiction.
Detroit may not look on the surface like a place of rebirth, but in an editorial in the New York Times earlier this year Lasser reminded readers that Detroit’s motto is “speramus meliora; resurgent cineribus”—“we hope for better things; it will rise from the ashes.”
A jarring, illuminating novel, SAY NICE THINGS ABOUT DETROIT speaks eloquently about the unlikely path to redemption of one man and, by extension, an entire city. As David and Carolyn journey throughout Detroit, they infuse its decaying urban landscape—with its complex, seemingly insurmountable racial and economic tensions—with new hope. The novel suggests a way forward for our bustling, complicated modern cities and, of course, for all of us living within them.
Michigan Book Tour Schedule:
Ann Arbor July 16, 2012
Nicola’s Books 7:00 PM
Westgate Shopping Center
Detroit July 17, 2012
Temple Memorial Library 7:00 PM
7400 Telegraph Road Bloomfield Hills, MI 48301
Lansing July 18, 2012
Schuler’s Bookstore 7:00 PM
1982 Grand River Avenue
Okemos, MI 48864
Detroit July 19, 2012
Barnes and Noble 7:00pm
6800 Orchard Lake Road
Talk/Signing West Bloomfield, MI
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: SCOTT LASSER, a native of Detroit, has worked for the National Steel Corporation and Lehman Brothers. His nonfiction has appeared in magazines ranging from The New Yorker to Dealmaker Magazine. He is the author of three other novels: Battle Creek, All I Could Get, and The Year That Follows. Say Nice Things About Detroit has been optioned by Steve Carell’s production company, Carousel/Warner Brothers, and for it, Lasser and his screenwriting partner, Derek Green, have written a screen adaptation. Lasser currently lives in Aspen, Colorado, and Los Angeles, California.