‘Grand River and Joy’ author Susan Messer reflects on Detroit

by Shaun Manning on March 28, 2013

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Susan Messer, author of the novel Grand River and Joy, recently reviewed two new books on the history of Detroit for TriQuarterly, taking the opportunity to consider how the Motor City became what it is today and the lessons we might take from its fate.

“Like the chronically ill, Detroiters don’t want to be forgotten or ignored. But they don’t want pity either, and they’ve grown weary of the world’s fascination with what they call ‘ruin porn,'” Messer writes in her review essay on Detroit: A Biography by Scott Martelle and The Making of Black Detroit in the Age of Henry Ford by Beth Tompkins Bates. “They have been to hell and (maybe) back. After all, Detroit went from Arsenal of Democracy to Automotive Capital of the World to America’s First Third-World City in a handful of decades. … [W]hy has this sad fate visited Detroit of all great cities? Why does it seem so unable to recover?”

Both books under review offer some answers, Messer says, or at least some context. Check out TriQuarterly for the full essay, and read Grand River and Joy for a story of Detroit in the turbulent ’60s.

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