Saturday, July 12, 2008


My book group read DETROIT NOIR for July. Not my idea since I knew they'd find it troubling--both the genre aspect and the way Detroit comes off in it.
Almost all of the women in this group were raised in Detroit when it was a city to be reckoned with. DETROIT NOIR reminded us once again that things have changed since 1965.

I said I wanted to look at Detroit in a kinder light, but this book was not the place to begin. I can thumb through it and find disturbing passages about Detroit in every story. Or even those set forty years in the past. That's as long as I've lived here. They remember another Detroit. I don't.

My group is not normally "noir" readers. Our typical selections are books like The Kite Runner, Reading Lolita in Tehran and Nickel and Dimed.

What was most remarkable about DETROIT NOIR, and I've read a lot of books in this series, is how dominant Detroit is. The city seems to overwhelm every story. No character or plot can outplay Detroit. I didn't find this to be the case in other volumes.

I think Eric Olsen and John Hocking did an excellent job in choosing the stories. And I say this as someone whose story was rejected. Not all of the stories are noir but every story in this book says something about Detroit. And that's a pretty fine achievement. It may not have been my group's favorite book, but it was good for us all to read it. Sometimes dark stories need to be told.

My Town Monday is the brain child of Travis Erwin, but this week check out Barrie Summy's blogsite at for other stories this week.


r2 said...

It's one of my favorite books in the noir series.

Barrie said...

I'll have to read it. Great post.

David Cranmer said...

It may be shocking but I've never read any of these books and its just been added to my Amazon shopping cart.

pattinase (abbott) said...

David-Start with the first Brooklyn Noir, which is still my favorite.
R2, I do think it holds up pretty well.

David Cranmer said...

Will do!

Terrie Farley Moran said...

Hi Patti,

I've only read about 1/2 dozen of the noir series and some (the Bronx comes to mind) are far more noir than others. It was actually depressing for an old Bronx girl (born and raised) like me to read, so I can understand how Detroit Noir bothered some of your book club members.

I have never read Detroit Noir but will have to find it now.


pattinase (abbott) said...

Yeah, Terrie. I would think Bronx would raise similar feelings. On the other hand, Manhattan was more more "noir" thirty years ago.

Barbara Martin said...

You've written an intriguing post about a book I've never heard of. I'm going to seek it out at Indigo.

pattinase (abbott) said...

And you'll be glad you live in Toronto after reading. There's a whole series of noir books. It started with Brooklyn Noir and has gone across the country and across the globe. Some make more sense in terms of noir that others. Twin Cities Noir-give me a break.

Travis Erwin said...

You've piqued my interest.