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Say Nice Things About Detroit: A Novel Hardcover – July 2, 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; First Edition edition (July 2, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393082997
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393082999
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 5.8 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,048,263 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

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

“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)

About the Author

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.

More About the Author

Scott Lasser is the author of four novels: Battle Creek, All I Could Get, The Year That Follows, and Say Nice Things About Detroit. His non-fiction has appeared in magazines ranging from the New Yorker to Dealmaker Magazine. Lasser has worked for a number of now-bankrupt companies, including General Motors, Lehman Brothers, and Dealmaker Magazine. Visit his website at scottlasserbooks.com.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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This book has good character development and an interesting plot.
Libbett Watson
How someone finds it and then holds onto it is a challenging journey for the expertly drawn characters in this novel.
Kerry Schmidt
As the title says "Say Nice Things About Detroit" because the storybis far from over!
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Corsoe on June 24, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What if you had to go back home and home was a place like Detroit? That's one of the the questions asked in this powerful new novel by Scott Lasser (Battle Creek, All I Could Get, The Year That Follows). David Halpert has returned home to help his ailing parents but also to confront his own troubled past. Soon, he reacquaints with Caroline, the younger sister of a former girlfriend. She too has left Detroit, but is back in town to deal with the aftermath of the mysterious murder of her sister and half-brother. Detroit is a town of many layers: we also meet Marlon---a young, black street kid with a terrible secret---who is as desperate to escape Detroit as David is to come home.

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.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Liz Hill on September 14, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This is the story of a grieving lawyer's reluctant return to Detriot, where he grew up, and his discovery that the place is a real home. Along the way, there's romance, mystery, and social commentary. But not hit-you-over-the-head-with-a-hammer commentary. The story is told through real and believable characters, who make their point through their lives. I admire the way Lasser touches on so many relevant points, from aging parents to racism to the crumbling economy, without lecturing or posturing. I live in the Rust Belt and don't know much about Detroit, but this story felt real and most of all hopeful for our future. Let's hear it for happy endings of all kinds.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By John W. Gastil on July 31, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I may be a member of a small (but growing) fraternity: People who've never lived in Detroit but cheer for it. And visit when they can. As such, I was excited to see this book appear. There are very few novelizations of modern Detroit--almost none if one rules out genre fiction (crime, detective, etc.). This book's a very welcome exception. I will spoil nothing for readers but offer these thoughts:
- 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.
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Format: Hardcover
Lasser's novel hovers on the edge of mystery with two shocking deaths that impact David Halpert's return to the city of his youth, murders that fall into place as the story evolves. Leaving Colorado behind, along with a tragically dead son and failed marriage, David responds to his father's request for assistance with an elderly mother's gradual slide into dementia. A local paper carries pictures of the murder victims, both well known to David, half-brother and sister, Dirk and Natalie, Black FBI agent Dirk raised by his father, Natalie by their white mother. David's attachment to Natalie is even more personal, boyfriend and girlfriend as teenagers. After initiating the next phase of his mother's care, David seeks out the victims' mother to offer his condolences. There, he is reacquainted with Carolyn, Natalie's young sister, a haunting reminder of the girl he once loved. In mutual grief and unspoken attraction, David and Carolyn gravitate toward one another; the resolution of this unexpected relationship is the heart of Lasser's sensitive rendering of past regrets and present opportunities, the roads not taken and the healing nature of second chances.

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.
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