Say Nice Things About Detroit by Scott Lasser – a review

There are times where David Halpert, the protagonist in Scott Lasser’s novel Say Nice Things About Detroit, is just too damn likeable.  Part of it is that he’s a failure on a few special levels. He’s a successful lawyer (which we hate) but his son’s dead and his marriage fell apart, which sort of makes up for being a successful lawyer. He lives in Denver, which is meh, but he’s from and moving back to Detroit, yay. He sleeps with the married sister of the woman he dated and loved when he was young, though I’m not sure this is a positive or a negative.

I think the major appeal of the novel isn’t the characters or the story, after a few chapters you can begin mentally slotting in what will likely happen next, but as Elmore Leonard blurbs on the cover, “you’ll love Scott Lasser’s style.” It’s a style that enthuses Detroit with a compulsive readability.  While you can see what trouble will be coming around the bend, you don’t care because you enjoy getting there and getting around it.  The woman’s married with a kid? Well, you know she’s going to end up in Detroit, but you still like seeing it all unfold, though it may be a bit perverse to enjoy seeing her first marriage unravel in favor of leaving California’s sunny wonderland and replace it with Michigan’s million and five different versions of snow.

What is most remarkable about the style of Detroit is death is never really the focus of the novel, despite there being plenty of it littered throughout the pages. People die, violently, but the novel is really about life, about people getting along and people doing what they feel they are obligated to through the sense of what is right.

Alright, another short review but check it out. lasser’s got a nice one here that’s readable and fun, even a decent little PR piece for Detroit which needs all of the positivity it can get. As always, here’s the B&N link. Make them take your money.

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