After the Fire: Bill Morris’ Motor City Burning

Bill Morris’ new novel, Motor City Burning (Pegasus Books), begins on Opening Day at Tiger Stadium.  It’s 1968, nearly a year since the race riots ravaged Detroit, and five days since the death of Martin Luther King Jr. This immediate submersion into baseball-and-hot-dog Americana and fraught historical context establish the duality of Morris’s novel: Motor … Continue reading After the Fire: Bill Morris’ Motor City Burning

Witness & Scrutiny: An Interview with John W. Evans

John W. Evans’s memoir Young Widower (University of Nebraska Press, $19.95) begins with the author imagining his place in a bookshop’s self-help aisle. Here he finds the cloying jargon, the “wistful elders look[ing] out plaintively from dust jackets,” but nothing that resonates with his experience: his wife, Katie, was mauled by a bear while the couple … Continue reading Witness & Scrutiny: An Interview with John W. Evans

The Motor City & The Vehicle City: Talking to Mark Binelli in Flint, Michigan

In 1989, Michael Moore’s Roger & Me announced the death of the auto industry in my hometown, the birthplace of General Motors, Flint, Michigan. In the film, Moore travels back and forth from Flint to General Motor’s Detroit headquarters, demanding Chairman Roger Smith come confront Flint’s 30,000 unemployed auto workers. Unable to talk to Smith, … Continue reading The Motor City & The Vehicle City: Talking to Mark Binelli in Flint, Michigan

Snow & Guavas: NoViolet Bulawayo’s We Need New Names

What first struck me about NoViolet Bulawayo’s novel of coming of age in Mugabe’s Zimbabwe, We Need New Names, were the brilliant insults. Ten year old Darling, and her gang of friends – Bastard, Stino, Sbho, and Godknows (not Chipo, though—she hasn’t said a word since she got pregnant)—run through the shanties and guava orchards … Continue reading Snow & Guavas: NoViolet Bulawayo’s We Need New Names

All These Voices: Peter Orner’s Last Car Over the Sagamore Bridge

On our last trip home to Michigan, my boyfriend and I took public transportation. Round-trip, this     takes two buses, two trains, and two long layovers in Chicago. Clanking through the Gary rail yards and  the Michigan trees, the porter announcing all those curiously beautiful names–Dowagiac, Kalamazoo, Owosso– the trip is slow, but presents a host … Continue reading All These Voices: Peter Orner’s Last Car Over the Sagamore Bridge