Discuss Detroit Archives - Beginning January 2006 Made in Detroit: A South of 8 Mile Memoir Previous Next
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Adamjab19
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Username: Adamjab19

Post Number: 602
Registered: 11-2003
Posted From: 69.47.170.119
Posted on Thursday, January 19, 2006 - 7:30 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

This is a book by Paul Clemens. He grew up on the east side in Eastpoint raised Catholic. It's modern and real. It's a life story from an average guy. Never did anything terribly exceptional just lived a life that I think the majority of people can relate to in some way. He writes about growing up white in a city becoming more and more balck through out the 70's, 80's, and 90's. He is very honest about his emotions with this issue. It's not that the author is a racists, he shuns racism, but it is interesting to get an insiders perspective of life in the city at this time. It's intresting that he only lived a few block from 8 mile but is still effected by the changing city as if he was living in the center of it.

The other thing that is interesting is that some of his other problems with the city are issues that are still brought up on this forum. Like stolen cars, break ins, high insurance rates were all an issue when growing up in the city 80's. Nothing has changed it seems. As the book progresses through his life the authors tone almost gets mroe angry when the hopelessness of the city increases.

The author adds in quotes from CAY's autobiography, Malcom X's autobiography, as well as other examples using prominent literature pieces. The authors breakdown of the city's breakdown is everything I have wanted to know about how things got to where they are now as I started learning about the city. So it fit my knowledge quite well.

Again I don't think this little "review" does the book any sort of justice, and hopefully someone else can add to this, but if you are looking for a good, honest read about Detroit, I really think this is it.
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Jfried
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Username: Jfried

Post Number: 705
Registered: 11-2003
Posted From: 69.47.87.96
Posted on Thursday, January 19, 2006 - 11:05 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Clomons actually lived in the city proper.

I liked the book, too. But I don't know that he lived in the "real" Detroit - whatever that may be. Other than his brief stint in the local football league, he was pretty isolated in his neighborhood and the catholic church.

Here is a pretty good review of the book - http://www.rohan.sdsu.edu/~rgi bson/MadeinDetroitReview2005.h tm
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Adamjab19
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Username: Adamjab19

Post Number: 603
Registered: 11-2003
Posted From: 69.47.170.119
Posted on Thursday, January 19, 2006 - 11:44 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Yeah got the eastpointe thing wrong...

I'm not sure I agree with everything in that review. I think the importance of this book IS the fact that he lived in a white catholic community but as time went on he had to learn to live with black people which at that time was something new for a white catholic community. True it's not like he was in the center of a black community though. The whole history bit in the review should not be held against Clemens because by the time alot of those things that the reviewer mentions happened he was already an adult and speaking of his past which at the time the actions spoken by his family and other community leaders were the norm. If in the book it stated he was a racist then yeah not mentioning the history of the struggles in Detroit would have been suspect, but that is not the case. Overall I think this reviewer is looking at Clemens book in hindsight. Some of the stories I have heard from my father about my grand parents reactions to blacks moving into their neighborhood are not good. People lived in their 2-3 block area and that was it and when, at the time, black people started moving in it was all foriegn to them. Of course looking back at the time when Clemens was growing up and when blacks were moving in would show the Clemens doesn't know history because it was the norm at the time. It wasn't the wrong thing to do or feel. But why would you bring up history in a chronoligical biography? Clemens would have had a totally different book if he stated what he felt and experienced while growing up but then painted over that with how it looked 15-20years after it happened. It would have become a history book.

Also in the book white trash and his neighborhood was differentiated by the fact that they were working class and Catholic thus not white trash.

Jfried- Thanks for posting that link. It's interesting to see what someone thought of the book who didn't agree with all of Clemens ideas of Detroit as he grew up.
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Pffft
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Username: Pffft

Post Number: 724
Registered: 12-2003
Posted From: 69.221.70.31
Posted on Thursday, January 19, 2006 - 11:53 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

The book is a memoir, it's his life and reactions to growing up, so I agree with you Adam, I don't see why he needs to have an objective, historical narrative throughout the thing.

As it was, he had plenty of fascinating history, including quotes from CAY he gleaned from the "Little Red Book."
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Tweed
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Username: Tweed

Post Number: 33
Registered: 06-2005
Posted From: 69.246.43.128
Posted on Friday, February 03, 2006 - 10:01 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I just finished reading the Clemens book, and though I did find it engrossing, I was also a little disturbed by the self-involvement of it. Gibson's comments are quite appropriate since it purports to be a book about Detroit as a whole: "a South of 8 Mile Memoir."

There were times when I wished he would simply tell us more about the people he knew in Detroit, and less about his own internal struggles and arguments with dead authors, like James Baldwin, whose work he somehow imagines was in some convoluted sense justifying the rape of his future wife by a black man (which occurred before he even knew her). I found that connection hard to follow, and the lack of his wife's perspective on the situation almost reduces it to an offense against him, rather than her.

The Chafets book was also self-involved, heavily intertwined with personal issues of guilt and race, but he seemed to do a better job of actually trying to learn about Detroit by talking (and listening) to people other than those he knew in grade school, his own parents, and himself.

In the end, Clemens diagnosis of the city's ills as a reflection of some moral or spiritual decay is actually less convincing than that line he quotes from CAY, when he says something like : "the neighborhoods are dying because half the damn population left."

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