Friday, August 9, 2013

Is Flint, Michigan Home to "Genuine Citizenship?"

Randall Mawer of the Lost Coast Review writes:
"The style of Teardown is Rolling-Stone-style journalism, relatively informal, strongly first person, loosely organized. But there is modern history, too, and wide-ranging inquiry into economics and (especially) politics. The strongest narrative interest, though, springs from Gordon’s contacts with Flintites old and new, people doing what he is contemplating. They are attractive, enthusiastic, clearly willing to help Gordon with his project. The heart of the writer’s ambition is not the hypothetical house, effective symbol of the whole--the city, the citizenry--though it may be. This rather is the friendships of the house-holders, who provide one another expertise, save one another cash, and embody the genuine citizenship represented by loyalty to one’s block, one’s lawn, one’s “residence” in the largest sense of the word. The small, locally owned coffee shop, market, and bar are thus extensions of the homes, and the lack of waste ground between them shows quite literally how such residences fuse into real community."

1 comment:

  1. That's an interesting comment about the "hypothetical house" and "the friendships of the house-holders" -- I know he meant, I gather, your quest for the $3K find, but I'm also intrigued by that phrase. The "hypothetical house" and its implications. So tied into to the desires and anxieties of the "house-holders" -- a phrase that feels sort of non-American. Watching PBS Newshour's coverage about Detroit tonight, I was struck by the relief expressed by one of the demolition guys (who lived right in that neighborhood) when the beat-up houses were swept away -- he said it even smelled better, and in the morning when he went outside he liked the fresh air. Not sure how all this ties together, but it's absorbing to think about.


Thanks for commenting. I moderate comments, so it may take a while for your comment to appear. You might enjoy my book about Flint called "Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City," a Michigan Notable Book for 2014 and a finalist for the 33rd Annual Northern California Book Award for Creative NonFiction. Filmmaker Michael Moore described Teardown as "a brilliant chronicle of the Mad Maxization of a once-great American city." More information about Teardown is available at