The Lost Tiki Palaces of Detroit
Publication Year: 2009
Published by: Wayne State University Press
The stories in this collection have appeared in the following journals and anthologies: “To Sleep,” American Short Fiction; “Dyskinesia,” The Literary Review and Ararat; “War Marks,” “Hearts and Bones,” Beloit Fiction Journal; “The World of Things” and “Process,” The Literary Review; “Mystery Spot,” Panurge (UK), “Traffic Reports,” The PrePress Awards: Michigan Voices and Peregrine; ...
1. West Side
After a plane crash, people in Detroit play the number of the flight, hoping it will come in. I have never done that, but after flight 244 fell out of the sky, I dreamed about it. Ashamed as I am to admit it, I looked up the dream in my “Kansas City Kitty Dream Book” and found that the number for Crash landing was 606. ...
The walls of our Euthanasia Room are light blue, recommended to us by some people at a local hospice.The color is supposed to soothe the animals and I suppose it does, even if it annoys me. Light blue has always been my least favorite color. My mother used to call it “polack blue. ”Interesting, considering my mother was the all-time biggest, polyester pants suit, deese and dose, plastic-on-the-crushed-velvet furniture from Lasky’s, Hamtramck ...
James Topper had been doing a lot of traveling. He wasn’t sure why he was traveling, but he was definitely eating well: fiery gumbo in New Orleans; dry-rubbed ribs in Memphis; Evansville, Indiana’s squirrelly hot burgoo; cocoa-spiked Cincinnati five-way chili; as well as Buffalo’s majestic chicken wing. Yet no matter how good the food was, he couldn’t seem to stay in one place. He had lived in each place only about three or four ...
The stain could have been blood, long dried and brushed away, or it could have been just one of those stains that appear on things you keep in the closet for many years, usually on something white, like a favorite dinner jacket or a wedding dress. It had been so long I couldn’t remember how the flag had originally looked. I know it wasn’t clean. How could it have been, with everything I car-...
The World of Things
My house is filled with objects taken from my parents’ house and other parents’ houses, perhaps yours. I have a particular taste for the items of the early sixties, that era when my parents were in their prime: good white middle-class folks living in a good white middle-class Detroit neighborhood. The objects they possessed are what obsess ...
The Problem with Modell
Junk is Modell’s life. Modell owns a junk store. He tries to find things that look nice, but no one goes to his junk store to buy classy antiques, they go for bargains. When Modell tries to interest them in a piece of fine china or a good bentwood rocker, they ignore him. So Modell sticks to selling junk—old pots and pans, beat-up furniture, rusty tools—that sort of thing. Sometimes people bring the junk to him, which makes his job easy, ...
2. East Side
How could there be so many wig shops in one city? In all the shopping districts in Detroit where there were once swanky department stores, then nothing, there were now wig shops.They must somehow materialize spontaneously, he thought as he walked, like urban renewal colors—electric blues, lemon yellows, titty pinks—abruptly slathered on the cinder-block facades of Chaldean party ...
Hearts and Bones
Five months of marriage and still when Walker strolled unannounced into the room where Megan read, all this happened in a moment: She would look up at him, alarmed at first, then bewildered,as if to say, “What the fuck are you doing here? ”Then abruptly, it seemed to Walker, she would remember and try quickly to smile. Her worst, most obviously fake smile—a grimace, a death mask, you name it. ...
We are tourists. I have recently come to terms with this. My husband and I were never the kind who traveled to expand our minds. We always traveled to have fun—Weeki Wachee, Gatlinburg, South of the Border, Lake George, Rock City. We have seen swimming pigs and horses, a Russian palace covered with corn, young girls underwater drinking Pepsi-Cola from ...
The Listening Room
Lucky. At that time, I’d heard the word used to describe a marble or a coin or a baseball mitt, but never a bed. Yet it was what I heard one Saturday night, eavesdropping on my parents’ pinochle group. I had recently discovered that by sitting at the top of the stairs where the ceiling angled, I could hear what everyone in the living room was saying. Of course, with two card tables of adults, they were often talking or laughing at the same ...
Noise of the Heart
There was a thundering in Leland’s ears as he attempted, with unsteady hands,to work his way behind the bookcase to where the telephone was connected. There was a small box on the floor in front of him.He kept glancing at the disclaimer on the back of the box. It was giving him the creeps: ...
It was a big accident and I saw the whole thing. A semitrailer in front of me tried to turn the median too quickly. It was almost graceful really. The standard car accident slo-mo effect. When it flipped, all these barrels flew out of the back, barrels breaking like dodo eggs on the concrete. Grainy brown sludge just gooshed out of them. I knew right away that it was cooking grease. There must have been ...
It is a small puncture on the driver’s side roof panel about halfway up. Not a large hole by any means, even Bilner knows that. It is just a little hole. A cute little bullet hole. Nothing to worry about. Bilner’s friend,Al Kozikowski, who knows about these sorts of things, who actually carries a gun most oft he time, says that it was probably from a ...
When I get to my parents’ house this Sunday, I am surprised to hear that my father has locked himself in the basement. Actually, that’s just my mother’s way of putting it. He is simply down in his darkroom and won’t come up. My father is a retired photographer. He worked for the electric company here in Detroit for thirty-four years, taking photographs of corporate big-...
...she had been to my Web site, The Paris of the Midwest Is Crumbling (DiggerDetroit.net), and dropped me an e-mail. Lots of times I don’t answer these e-mails because what I do—you know, this breaking into abandoned buildings to explore and take photos, then write about the experience—it’s pretty fucking illegal. That’s why I don’t use my real name. Anyway, she contacted me and asked if I ever took anyone else on ...
The Lost Tiki Palaces of Detroit
I was on the bus, heading down Woodward Avenue. We had just stopped at West Grand Boulevard and I craned my neck to check out the former site of the Mauna Loa. I probably do this once a week on the bus on my way to work. I try to imagine how the place must have looked there in the New Center: a massive Polynesian temple, its thatched A-frame entryway flanked by flaming torches and swaying winter-proof palm trees on a gently ...
Page Count: 216
Publication Year: 2009
Volume Title: N/a
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