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Say Nice Things About Detroit: A Novel Hardcover – July 2, 2012
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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. (Elmore Leonard)
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. (Susan Richards Shreve, author of You Are the Love of my Life)
Starred review. Detroit is autumnal in this quietly moving novel of place… Lasser 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. (Publisher's Weekly)
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 - Booklist)
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. (Thomas Lynch, author of The Undertaking)
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 - Shelf Awareness)
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. (Thomas McGuane)
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…
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. (Kirkus)
Readers will savor this fast-paced tale of redemption in one sitting. (Russell Miller - Library Journal)
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 - Bookpage)
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. (CurledUp.com)
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Top Customer Reviews
- There is a plot in here that's quite compelling; some things are shown early on, but the author draws you into the story well enough that the resolution makes perfect sense without being given away.
- There are a couple memorable characters, and the author shifts point of view effectively to give you a sense of how they each experience life--and the city of Detroit.
- Detroit is a prominent backdrop, but it's not a tedious insiderly account; it helps to know a few landmarks, but the story doesn't depend on one knowing where Tiger Stadium used to be.
- The writing style is spare. Unadorned. It reads quickly, and scenes are brief. The author likes to summarize what could be drawn-out bits of dialogue, esp. when a character is summarizing a past event.
In the end, I go with four instead of five stars only because I never felt that I got too close to the characters. They have experienced a range of tragedies, small and large, and I empathized without being moved to tears. The account feels a bit clinical, as if the author has a critical distance from the subject matter that makes its pain more tolerable, but less powerful. Detroit could probably use such treatment on a grander scale, and this novel helps us get much closer to a city that might bite if you approach it without any caution.
Part love story, part murder mystery, part novel of place, Say Nice Things About Detroit explores the meaning of love and family and race, of the bonds we're born into and the bonds we create for ourselves. You don't have to be from Detroit to be swept up in this fast-paced and deeply moving book. I found myself mesmerized by the author's mastery not only of character but also of pace and setting. It's a rip-roaring story that's really about all of us and the way we live today. I loved this novel and I bet you will too.
As David explores the familiar and the changed aspects of a city he once called home, memory and reality collide, Detroit emerging as a repository of both despair and hope, the demographics of race and the slow attrition of neighborhood crime revealing a multi-layered story: two friends' concern for a troubled son; the seduction of drugs and gang affiliation; the effects of long-term economic depression; and the power of friendship to reach across cultural borders. As Halpert redefines his place in the world and a future he is willing to invest in, where to set down permanent roots, Carolyn is confronted by the likely consequences of her choices. Inevitably, the tragic deaths of Natalie and Dirk fall into the warp and weave of the shared tapestry of these characters' lives. Luan Gaines/2012.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I loved this book!!! Not only did it keep me on the edge of my seat with its twists and turns, but as a Detroiter, it was nice to see actual names or places I have known and been... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Wanda D
This story line in a very simplistic easy way tackles race, faith, second chances, redemption, dying and the aging of parents. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Ladyj
This book is smartly written and pulled me in from the start. Scott Lasser takes us to a Detroit that strikes a superb balance between family traditions, depleted hopes, racial... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Karla Jay
My book club and I really liked this book. There wasn't much about it we didn't like. I think Scott is as good, or a better author than Patterson. Read morePublished 14 months ago by R. Turner
If ever there was a city that needed some loving these days, it's Detroit, and kudos to the writer Scott Lasser for tackling that subject here, in such a humane and even-handed... Read morePublished 17 months ago by 12-Year-Old YA Fiction Fan
I really liked this book. I thought it was a good story. Plus I am from the Detroit Metro area originally, so it was nice to read a book that had so many references I was familiar... Read morePublished on January 30, 2014 by J. H.
I enjoyed this book quite a bit but have a couple of qualifications. First, the plot was intriguing and held my interest throughout. However, the ending was anticlimactic. Read morePublished on August 29, 2013 by Richard F Setili
Who says you can't return home? Certainly not the characters in this well written story that throws in a little bit of "murder mystery", a little bit of "contemporary... Read morePublished on July 27, 2013 by Amazon Customer