A tight homecoming story. Coming home to Detroit. With some great asides to race, it's about family, about the city.— From Jason's Picks
“Ambitious and ultimately accomplished . . . a perfect encapsulation of Detroit’s present moment.”—Dean Bakopoulos, San Francisco Chronicle
Twenty-five years after his high school graduation, David Halpert returns to a place that most people flee. But David is making his own escape—from his divorce and the death of his son. In Detroit, David learns about the double shooting of his high school girlfriend Natalie and her black half-brother, Dirk. As David becomes involved with Natalie’s sister, he will discover that both he and his hometown have reasons to hope.
As compelling an urban portrait as The Wire and a touching love story, Say Nice Things About Detroit takes place in a racially polarized, economically collapsing city that doesn't seem like a place for rebirth. But as David tries to make sense of the mystery behind Natalie’s death and puts back the pieces of his own life, he is forced to answer a simple question: if you want to go home again, what do you do if home is Detroit?
About the Author
Scott Lasser, a native of Detroit, has worked for the National Steel Corporation and Lehman Brothers. He is the author of three novels and currently lives in Aspen, Colorado, and Los Angeles, California.
A tough but redemptive tale…What ultimately resonates most profoundly in the novel is Mr. Lasser’s ode to the city where he was born.
— Adam Langer
Lasser is an economical writer who reveals character and class through details and dialogue…For those who wonder why anyone still lives in the home of the Not-So-Big Three, he provides a rich and satisfying answer.
Detroit is autumnal in this quietly moving novel of place…Lasser composes his sympathetic cast into tableaux that are meaningful, even emblematic, but that, even when highly dramatic, aren’t forced. His restrained portrait of Detroit evokes real pathos.
David Halpert returns to his native city and finds a new life and a modicum of happiness, but along the way he also confronts heartbreak and loss…Lasser’s setting ranges from the dingy ’hood to the ritzy ’burbs, so by the end we get to know the city almost as intimately as we know the characters.
Readers will savor this fast-paced tale of redemption in one sitting.
— Russell Miller
Starred review. Lasser’s Detroit may be a troubled city, but it is one whose vibrant soul is writ large in the small actions of its loyal citizens. With a serene and steady hand, Lasser’s spare but intense tale is a smart, intimate homage to the power of second chances. Put this book in the hands of fans of Richard Ford and Richard Russo.
— Carol Haggas
This appealing story may prompt some to hope (Detroit) will receive the chance at redemption that Scott Lasser so generously extends to his characters.
— Harvey Freedenberg
Lasser… knows which side of 8 Mile Road matters, and his intimate understanding of the city makes for a captivating novel rich with details of the local vernacular, weather, food, music, crime and, of course, cars. While the double murder and diverse characters drive the narrative, the city itself plays a central role. Detroit is not just the setting for Lasser’s story—it’s a place with a beating heart (weak pulse notwithstanding) and enough guts to have a future.
— Bruce Jacobs
This is a sharp, clear portrait of who we are now. Scott Lasser continues to shape a very distinct literary map.
— Colum McCann
You’ll love Scott Lasser’s style. His book spans a few years but keeps moving with dialogue that’s natural and alive: whites and blacks in Detroit, a setting you come to know and can feel what it’s about. I know; I’ve been here most of my life.
— Elmore Leonard
Scott Lasser has written a moving story of people whose lives are stalled until they face events and places they’d rather avoid. His book suggests that for people and cities, life’s greatest rewards are only achieved through struggle. A moving tribute to second chances and the august, desolate, melancholy city of Detroit.
— Thomas McGuane
In a city famous for ruin, a pilgrim’s tale of rebirth and renewal: Scott Lasser’s narrative gifts are abundant, his characters a compelling and convincing lot. Say Nice Things About Detroit, while true to life’s damages and sadnesses, is nonetheless a joyous, vital read.
— Thomas Lynch, author of The Undertaking
A mystery underlies Lasser’s thoughtful novel of a man returning to the city of his youth to assist elderly parents in distress, but only in a peripheral sense. The senseless murder of two people grows more meaningful and textured by the story’s end.