The Lost Tiki Palaces of Detroit by Michael Zadoorian – Review

Bought on a whim at Half Price Books off the clearance shelves because the title was interesting and it was part of a Michigan Book Series, The Lost Tiki Palaces of Detroit was a wonderful surprise of a short story collection. It’s divided into three sections: West Side, East Side and Downtown and I get the impression that if I knew more about each geographical area of Detroit, the stories would take on an additional layer of meaning.

It is a work that explores ruins. Ruins of people, ruins of a city, ruins of hope and the treasures that are uncovered in each exploration. From a young man, lost in life, who forms a bond over a love of hot sauce with an elderly woman who embraces her illness to create paintings to a couple wandering into the Mystery Spot (something any Michigander who has ventured towards the Makinac Bridge will be familiar with) to a group of friends who literally climb and creep about the derelict buildings of Detroit to take photographs of the decay, the collection moves freely and comfortably.

While thinking of the collection, I was reminded of the film Waking Life by Richard Linklater. In this film, we are propelled along through various scenes, loosely connected by one character who is either dreaming the whole thing or who has died and is having the most untradiational after death experience put on film, with people talking about life, existence and largely whether or not there is meaning and whose job it is to give that meaning. While no one in Zadoorian’s work comes off with the same authority as the various characters in Linklater’s film, the connection feels right. Rather than having authority about their philosophizing on life, Zadoorian’s characters are philosophy in action, such as the beginning story where it begins with the character talking about playing the lotto and meanders into the idea of a mass consciousness that could draw comparisons to a similar conversation between Jesse and Celine, characters Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy have played in at least three of Linklater’s movies (Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Waking Life).

This is going to be another short review of a book that I read ages ago but it’s another book that I loved but just couldn’t find the time and energy to do a whole write up on. But it deserves whatever praise and publicity it can get and it’s well worth the time put into reading it. If you want to find out a bit more about the book, or even want to just throw your money down on it now, here’s the book at Amazon.

Michael Zadoorian also has a website of his own. As a book lover, and a lover of compilations, his website design is a favorite of mine.


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