My literary novel, [title], explores the class, race, and ethnic frictions at work in the year encompassing the Detroit riots of 1967. In a broader sense, the novel is about the rise and collapse of a great American city—the once-mighty automobile capital of the world and arsenal of democracy.
The novel is based on a story for which I won first place in the 2005 Moment short fiction competition judged by Judy Budnitz.
Here's the write up in the New Yorker about Made in Detroit by Paul Clemens:
Detroit's population has halved since the nineteen-fifties, the result both of decline in the auto industry and, starting in the late sixties, of white flight in the wake of race riots. Born in Detroit in the seventies, Clemens grew up in a white enclave, and his memoir lovingly depicts his soft-spoken, gearhead father, who could shift from first to fifth without ever engaging the clutch, and his stalwart mother, who cleaned houses to pay for a private education that would keep her son out of inner-city schools. Embedded in his well-wrought, if conventional, coming-of-age story is an honest and bracing account not only of mutual mistrust across the color divide but also of the peculiar Rust Belt pride that kept whites and blacks locked together, even as the city collapsed around them.
See the difference?
The New Yorker article has a compelling immediacy to it. You're removed and distant in yours. You're telling me, not showing me with artful language like "gear head father" and "peculiar rust belt pride" what you want me to care about.
Read this book. It's probably the best memoir I've read since Mary Karr and Gay Talese.