KDL Recommends > Staff Picks > October 2013

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Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City

Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City

ISBN: 0520270525

Title: Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City

Author: Gordon Young

KDL Description:


“Former Flintoid Gordon Young tries to do the impossible in 2009, buy and renovate a house in Flint! Young finds that he may have underestimated how much has changed in Flint since the 1980’s, when he abandoned his hometown for San Francisco. Teardown provides an insider’s perspective into the past and present state of Michigan’s vehicle city.”—Barb at KDL’s Kentwood (Richard L. Root) branch

Amazon Description:

After living in San Francisco for 15 years, journalist Gordon Young found himself yearning for his Rust Belt hometown: Flint, Michigan, the birthplace of General Motors and “star” of the Michael Moore documentary Roger & Me. Hoping to rediscover and help a place that once boasted one of the world’s highest per capita income levels, but is now one of the country’s most impoverished and dangerous cities, he returned to Flint with the intention of buying a house. What he found was a place of stark contrasts and dramatic stories, where an exotic dancer can afford a lavish mansion, speculators scoop up cheap houses by the dozen on eBay, and arson is often the quickest route to neighborhood beautification.

Skillfully blending personal memoir, historical inquiry, and interviews with Flint residents, Young constructs a vibrant tale of a once-thriving city still fighting—despite overwhelming odds—to rise from the ashes. He befriends a rag-tag collection of urban homesteaders and die-hard locals who refuse to give up as they try to transform Flint into a smaller, greener town that offers lessons for cities all over the world. Hard-hitting, insightful, and often painfully funny, Teardown reminds us that cities are ultimately defined by people, not politics or economics.