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Reading: Bill Morris

Monday, December 15 @ 7PM

Bill Morris
MOTOR CITY BURNING
From the critically acclaimed author of Motor City, Detroit comes alive in a powerful and thrilling novel set amidst the chaos of the race riots and the serenity of Opening Day.

Willie Bledsoe, once an idealistic young black activist, is now a burnt-out case. After leaving a snug berth at Tuskegee Institute to join the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, he has become bitterly disillusioned with the civil rights movement and its leaders. He re-turns home to Alabama to try to write a memoir about his time in the cultural whirlwind, but the words fail to come.

The surprise return of his Vietnam veteran brother in the spring of 1967 gives Willie a chance to drive a load of smuggled guns to the Motor City – and make enough money to jump-start his stalled dream of writing his movement memoir. There, at Tiger Stadium on Opening Day of the 1968 baseball season – postponed two days in deference to the funeral of Martin Luther King, Jr. – Willie learns some terrifying news: the Detroit police are still investigating the last unsolved murder from the bloody, apocalyptic riot of the previous summer, and a white cop named Frank Doyle will not rest until the case is solved. And Willie is his prime suspect.

Bill Morris's rich and thrilling new novel sets Doyle's hunt amid the history of one of America's most tortured and fascinating cities, as Doyle and Willie struggle with Detroit's deep racial divide, with revenge and forgiveness – and with the realization that justice is rarely attainable, and rarely just.

“Detroit would surely rise again if that battered city could only wake up to find itself in 1968, reliving opening day at Tiger Stadium. In Motor City Burning, Bill Morris extends that promise of rebirth and redemption to Willie Bledsoe.” —Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review

“Morris eloquently captures the Detroit of 1968, a city shaped by the auto industry, ravaged by violence, and rejuvenated by Motown, in this outstanding crime novel. Morris adeptly evokes time and place, displaying a profound passion for Detroit and astute insight into the era’s fraught climate. Characters represent a cross-section of the city’s population, adding nuance to this tale of a young black man seeking his voice, a cop pursuing justice, and a country searching for a way forward.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Morris’ rough and edgy writing brings the city alive. [An] incredible narrative. Motor City Burning does something important — it captures the feeling of being alive in a time and place so well you feel like you were there.” —The Boston Herald

“A gripping tale and a meditation on race, class, and justice set during the year the country was rocked by the assassinations of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy. Motor City Burning is Morris' third novel, and it may be his best. If there's any justice, it should bring him the attention and the audience he deserves.” —The Philadelphia Inquirer
Bill Morris is the author of the novels Motor City and All Souls' Day. He is currently a staff writer with the online literary magazine The Millions, and his writing has appeared in Granta, the New York Times, The Washington Post Magazine, L.A. Weekly, Popular Mechanics and numerous other newspapers and magazines. Bill grew up in Detroit and now lives in New York City.
photo by Natasha Belauskine
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