Monday night, after I finished writing my stories, I finally got to reading this weekend's NY Times Book Review, where I found a glowing review of Made in Detroit, a memoir by Paul Clemens. I could say I was "astonished," but that obscures the reality of this "holy sh*t" moment. Paul Clemens and I used to carpool to school together when I was in the 2nd grade. He was two years older than me. His sister and I were good friends growing up, particularly in high school.
I was shocked, and thrilled, to see her brother get such good press. I ran out and bought the book yesterday, and started reading it. It's pretty good so far. It gets at these racial tensions that I remember growing up in that area but that I've never heard fully explained. Paul does a better job of it than anybody else I've read so far.
The book will probably be pretty controversial — it deals frankly with race relations in Detroit. I'm about half way through it, and I think it's pretty accurate. Paul and Beth grew up about half a mile from me. You can see where on this map. They lived on Edmore, or Eastburn, one of those nearby streets; we lived on Juliana, just across 8 Mile. Of course, they lived in Detroit, and we lived in East Detroit, a suburb, which is now called Eastpointe. So our neighborhoods were remarkably different. But we went to the same Catholic schools in Harper Woods.
It might not be strange for you, reader, to see someone from your past have their book reviewed in the NY Times, but let me tell you, it is a real shocker for me. People I knew growing up often seemed suspicious of me because I was interested in reading and writing. Kids there just didn't grow up to be writers. It's exciting to see that another one of them did.
It also makes me think I ought to get moving on my frickin' novel.