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Nov
11

Who is this Mark Binelli and why am I reading so much about him

What was left of Tiger Stadium

I read about Mark Binelli’s new book “Detroit City is the Place to Be” first, in the New York Times, then Book Talk, then Publishers Weekly, then the Detroit Free and now the New York Times Sunday Magazine. When will it stop? Hopefully never.

Binelli, a Rolling Stone writer, has street cred as a former Detroiter (sort of, since he’s from St. Clair Shores) due to his father’s downtown business. Binelli, who first made a stop in Ann Arbor for an education, went away to seek his fame, but returned in 2009 to embed (I just love that word especially when it’s used with Petraeus and his biographer) himself in city life. He had ambitions to become a full-blown fiction writer and Detroit was his canvas. It was not to be. Instead, he wrote a non-fiction look at Detroit that is quite the book. You might remember Binelli’s first book “Sacco and Vanzetti Must Die”, a quite unusual take on the usual anarchism literature.

In a question and answer in today’s Detroit Free Press he tells how some of his new book is due to the serendipity of living in a city. He recounts how he’d ride his bike from his Eastern Market neighborhood and “see what happens.”

Binelli’s approach is vaguely familiar, a little new journalism, perhaps influenced by Joan Didion or Tom Wolfe. In today’s New York Times Magazine he talks about “ruin porn” popular of late and I must add justifiably so due to the stark images it gives for photographers. Ruin porn is so prevalent that it has become its own tourist industry of sorts. Hey, ruins is still ruins, as is said. And Binelli believes that it detracts from the essence of what Detroit really is.

Read this book and if your are in the city on Friday be sure to stop by the Pure Detroit New Center on Friday in the lobby of the Fisher Building for those in the know-where I once walked into the offices of the Green Hornet. Maybe we could get Johnny Depp to stop by later next year. I hear his mohawk is quite fetching kemo sabe.) Binelli will be in Detroit for a book signing at 7 p.m.  Maybe afterwards he will take us to some of his favorite places.

But seriously this is a book of hope. It is a book about a city that will come back. It will be different. It will be smaller. But it will always be a city with character. Thanks Mark. I know a lot of people who will be reading this book and even though I am not supposed to say this you’ve got my vote for the Michigan Notable Books 2012.