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Say Nice Things About Detroit

A Novel

Scott Lasser (Author)

 

A novel about second chances from a writer of "stirring, poignant, and profound" work (Wally Lamb).

Twenty-five years after his high school graduation, David Halpert returns to a place that most people flee. But David is making his own escape—from his divorce and the death of his son. In Detroit, David learns about the double shooting of his high school girlfriend Natalie and her black half-brother, Dirk. As David becomes involved with Natalie’s sister, he will discover that both he and his hometown have reasons to hope.

As compelling an urban portrait as The Wire and a touching love story, Say Nice Things About Detroit takes place in a racially polarized, economically collapsing city that doesn't seem like a place for rebirth. But as David tries to make sense of the mystery behind Natalie’s death and puts back the pieces of his own life, he is forced to answer a simple question: if you want to go home again, what do you do if home is Detroit?

Book Details

  • Hardcover
  • July 2012
  • ISBN 978-0-393-08299-9
  • 5.9 × 8.6 in / 272 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide including Canada, but excluding the British Commonwealth.

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  1. Book CoverSay Nice Things About Detroit: A Novel

    Paperback

Endorsements & Reviews

“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

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