LeDuff is from Detroit, and after making a career in journalism he returns to the Detroit News to cover his hometown. He has collected the context of many of those stories here, and it’s a powerful and compelling read.
- LeDuff’s writing style and persona probably get on people’s nerves, and I get that. I was okay with his sort of Dashiell Hammett approach, mostly because he seemed very aware (or at least expressed that awareness in his writing) of his own flaws. He is despairing (and sort of disparaging) of reports, he is despairing of lots of the bad stuff of Detroit, he rips on politicians of all sorts, but he just as often rips on himself.
- He even does this in his marriage, making his wife out to be a way better person than he is. That gives him some props in my mind.
- I compare him to Hammett not because he’s writing fiction but because unlike Raymond Chandler he does not blame the woes of the world on gays and communists. Hammett always felt like he could not stand the wealthy elite who want only to day-trip or slum and then be protected from those who they come across.
- LeDuff clearly doesn’t much like big businessmen, but this book deals strictly with those who work on the ground, and he venerates firefighters in particular. He’s a little less sympathetic to cops, although he does show them often as hard workers who have equipment that is a joke. Detroit doesn’t seem to have benefited from the leftover military gear that seems to have infiltrated every other big city police force.
- So, as is probably pretty obvious, this book doesn’t see much hope for Detroit. I get that folks might be upset about that, as there are still many people trying to make the city work.
- My guess is that LeDuff wouldn’t argue with that. I think he thinks that people simply have the deck stacked against them because of all the corruption, folks skimming money so that they can get rich at the expense of those below them.