Lost in Detroit
Short stories dust up urban grit
Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli 8/31/09
The Lost Tiki Palaces of Detroit
By Michael Zadoorian
WSU Press - $18.95
Its exciting to read something truly new, passionate stories woven as if from the web of the writers being. Thats what is found in Michael Zadoorians The Lost Tiki Palaces of Detroit.
These newly envisioned stories of Detroit come at you without apology for the gritty language of the city, the racism, the madness of everyday life. The whiff of presence, of being there, grabs at your throat. I was compelled to read on by an author who knows how to involve readers with his implied promise: Stay with me here. Ive got something new to show you.
In The World of Things the son of a recently-dead mother has been tantalized for years by the kitschy detritus of her life, kept in a locked basement. My mother put a lock on our basement door when she decided I was after everything she owned, her son says. He is a collector of all things from the early 60s, that era when my parents were in their prime, living in a good white middle-class Detroit neighborhood.
He collects his mothers memories, in the guise of Danish Modern and limned-oak furniture; things ludicrously self-serious with their commitment to the well-living of the American dream as if collecting her -- in bits and pieces. What he finds in that basement, kept from him for so long, is a rebuke for trifling with other peoples lives, and a slap at his need to collect what his mother once valued -- the bits and pieces that defined her, for reasons having nothing to do with family memory but having much to do with separating himself from his heritage.