The importance of music—specifically, rock and roll—cannot be overstated when considering this novel. From Iggy & the Stooges to the MC5, Beautiful Music is a veritable crash course in Detroit’s lasting legacy on the music scene; the clanging guitars and screaming singers changed the wiring of an entire generation.
“I was born into a Detroit that was the fourth largest city in the United States, one of America’s greatest and most important cities. I’ve been aware of its significance since I was a child. Detroit is infused throughout my work, and I mean infused: its physical and metaphorical geographies, in a large and evolving sense, are an integral part of my imagination.”
“I really want the resources and the money that’s coming into the city to reach the bus, but I hope that gentrification never reaches the bus because there’s just so much culture and originality there.”
He saw teenagers carrying flammable cans / of kerosene and boxes of wooden matches, torching / the discarded carcasses of Fords and Chevies, / spreading flames through abandoned buildings / and unused factories, lighting one-story houses / on narrow lots in small neighborhoods.
Every night, I built a blind in the field from heaped tires, shot pheasants from there. I’d found the rifle at the abandoned shooting range. It was an air gun, fired pellets with hollow points that left holes the shape of keyholes in the targets. So far I had killed two pheasants and, accidentally, one squirrel. I had never seen another person. Squatters occupied the other abandoned warehouses, but squatters avoided the warehouse in the field.