Of Elmore Leonard’s 45 published novels, about a third are set in Detroit, the city he lived in for most of his life and where he was buried last weekend at the age of 87. He spent his career in Bloomfield Village, Michigan, which as far as literary hamlets go, is not exactly Brooklyn. He wrote on yellow legal pads in a concrete room in his basement for about eight hours a day, without breaking for food. If Leonard ever used a semicolon, I have yet to come across it. His novels did not so much end as stop in mid-motion. He didn’t covet a literary reputation; he garnered none of the prestigious literary honors awarded to his peers. He was quick to point out his shortcomings to interviewers, even though he had very few. One of his greatest supporters was Mike Lupica, a sports writer. Leonard once said that he didn’t have many friends who were writers because all they did was talk about writing. He was too busy writing.
His crime novels eventually traveled all over the world—to Israel and Rwanda and Palm Beach and Harlan County—but Detroit was his greatest character. For decades, writers have tried to do that city justice, to get at the heart of its coldness, of all that ugly beauty–even more now since Detroit became the largest American city to ever declare bankruptcy in July–but only Leonard made it come alive so consistently. There are passages of his writing that have enough power to make Céline’s Detroit novel Journey to the End of the Night look like a brochure from the Michigan tourism board.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s depiction of New York City’s economy was a tad too rosy, Bill de Blasio said, even as the mayor was predicting a gloomy future unless his replacement follows his lead.
Shortly after Mr. Bloomberg delivered a speech this morning warning that New York City was at risk of facing the same economic fate as Detroit, Mr. de Blasio, the city’s public advocate and a leading mayoral candidate, released a statement praising the mayor for diversifying the city’s economy while also bashing him for letting income inequality soar.
Fifty years ago, when General Motors, Ford and Chrysler ruled the automotive world and Honda was best known for making portable generators, nobody would have predicted the sad fate of the great city built by the automobile, Detroit.
Now that the city has declared bankruptcy after a spectacular decline decades in the making, few would argue that this is an isolated case of municipal mismanagement, that what happened in Detroit couldn’t possibly happen elsewhere.
All you creative young things eager to make it in the big city, Patti Smith has a suggestion: get out.
“New York has closed itself off to the young and struggling,” Ms. Smith said. “New York City has been taken away from you … So my advice is: Find a new city.” She Read More
As recently as March, Steven Rattner, the former private equity kingpin and Obama administration car czar, was having an unpleasant time with Overhaul, his book on the emergency auto rescue. “Writing books is a bear. It’s just really hard work. And he hasn’t done it before,” Mark Green, who’d talked to him about the struggle, Read More
The power of the American Presidency to move the environmental agenda was never more apparent than during President Obama’s recent directive to EPA to reconsider California’s request to set tighter air emission and fuel efficiency standards. Under the Clean Air Act, California has long had the authority to exceed federal standards and typically it has Read More
Donald Trump has put his hair on the line in a bet with World Wrestling Entertainment Chairman Vince McMahon. The Donald last week appeared on a WWE program to taunt Mr. McMahon, according to various media reports (and to a Southern relative of this reporter):
“I’m taller than you. I’m richer than you. Read More
US Guys: The True and Twisted Mind of the American Man by Charlie LeDuff, The Penguin Press, 242 pages, $25.95.
The other night, I watched a friend work her magic at a spot in the East Village. Her face imbued with the flush of three or 10 cocktails, she leaned in toward a guy and Read More
Granted, John Catsimatidis has made noises about running for mayor before. More than once.
But there’s still something refreshing about a person so willing to talk about every aspect of his theoretical campaign before so much as hiring a press secretary.
Yesterday, we chatted about some of the specifics of Read More
DEMETRIA: My save-the-dates have arrived! This weekend I’ll be carting them down to the post office. If I could, I would jump in the air and click my heels. I got cards and magnets and they both look great! The supplier threw in a few extra of each, so I’ll be able to tuck Read More