Sunday, March 9, 2014

‘Detroit - An American Autopsy,’ by Charlie LeDuff - NYTimes.com

Detroit:An American Autopsy
by Charles LeDuff

I read this a year ago, and as a Detroit native I have to say that LeDuff's Hemingway-inspired , virtually verbless  prose style suits the ongoing heartache that is the Motor City.  it is a relief that the author refrains from being the  amatuer urban planner or statistic-infected wonk in order to project dismal futures or to propose expensive , long term solutions predicated on someone's willingness to raise taxes. That is another conversation and debate that would distract from LeDuff's strong points as a writer,which are an attention to detail, unspoken nuance, the voice of the people he talks to and the grinding despair of a seemingly doomed city. 

This reads like a novel, more or less, a writer's journey through a city that once thrived and was respected and now, due to basic and fatal human flaws of greed, racism, and generations of indescribably awful economic and political decisions, has diminished in all respects. Will  Detroit recover? LeDuff leaves that question alone; what he does is provide vivid portraits of some of its citizens who share an remarkable resilience to their collective hardship.  

The question "Detroit: An American Autopsy" is whether politicians, city, state and  federal, can look this cit in the eye and muster the political will to do something about it. This a gruff, bracing read, powerfully presented.

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