The essays in Voices from the Rust Belt "address segregated schools, rural childhoods, suburban ennui, lead poisoning, opiate addiction, and job loss. They reflect upon happy childhoods, successful community ventures, warm refuges for outsiders, and hidden oases of natural beauty. But mainly they are stories drawn from uniquely personal experiences: A girl has her bike stolen. A social worker in Pittsburgh makes calls on clients. A journalist from Buffalo moves away and misses home.... A father gives his daughter a bath in the lead-contaminated water of Flint, Michigan" (from the introduction).Where is America's Rust Belt? It's not quite a geographic region but a linguistic one, first introduced as a concept in 1984 by Walter Mondale. In the modern vernacular, it's closely associated with the "Post-Industrial Midwest," and includes Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, as well as parts of Illinois, Wisconsin, and New York. The region reflects the country's manufacturing center, which, over the past forty years, has been in decline. In the 2016 election, the Rust Belt's economic woes became a political talking point and helped pave the way for a Donald Trump victory.But the region is neither monolithic nor easily understood. The truth is much more nuanced. Voices from the Rust Belt pulls together a distinct variety of voices from people who call the region home. Voices that emerge from familiar Rust Belt cities―Detroit, Cleveland, Flint, and Buffalo, among other places―and observe, with grace and sensitivity, the changing economic and cultural realities for generations of Americans.
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Voices from the Rust Belt Review
- January 1, 1970MargitteFirst of all, this is a non-fictional collection of essays by different authors, sharing their often nostalgic memories of life in the American Rust Belt. Expats looking at the 'welcome home' message at their memories' front doors.Anne Trubek says in the introduction: The essays included here showcase the thick, overlapping, and various layers of the region. Like the Rust Belt, they are as suffused by life as they are by loss, if not more so. Like lifting the canopy of trees covering the communi First of all, this is a non-fictional collection of essays by different authors, sharing their often nostalgic memories of life in the American Rust Belt. Expats looking at the 'welcome home' message at their memories' front doors.Anne Trubek says in the introduction: The essays included here showcase the thick, overlapping, and various layers of the region. Like the Rust Belt, they are as suffused by life as they are by loss, if not more so. Like lifting the canopy of trees covering the communities, the book exposes a diameter of different people, different perspective and various memories of the places they called home. Some essays are just memories, but most of them are politically tinted, or downright confrontational, like Can Detroit Save White People? written by Aaron Foley: I’m curious! What is it like being born into the most spoiled classes on the planet and wanting to move to a city full of black folks who have been ruined by centuries of your tyrannical rule? Serious question here. ( Quite the racist against whites remark)Henry Louis Taylor Jr. titled his essay Will Blacks Rise or Be Forgotten in the New Buffalo?: In black neighborhoods scattered across Buffalo’s East Side, residents must be wondering what all this Buffalo Happy Talk is about. Buffalo is not a happy city for most of them. It never has been. When black folks look around Buffalo, they see the city being re-created for whites: college-educated millennials, the creative classes, refined, middle-aged urbanites, and retired suburbanites. As a black historian and urban planner, looking through a glass darkly, I can see Buffalo rising. Yet, I can’t help but wonder for whom the city ascends. If you visit Buffalo’s so-called hot spots—Harbor Center, the waterfront, Allentown, the Elmwood Strip, Chippewa Street, and the Theatre District—you will see mostly hipster, latte-drinking whites. (Another straightforward blatant racist against whites remark)Busing, a White Girl's Tale by Amanda Shaffer, introduces the reader to a multi-cultural rainbow of inhabitants that once populated a region driven by racism, (mostly white racist, according to her) against all other races and relays her story of inclusive politics when it was hardly known: The Cudell/Edgewater neighborhood where I grew up was a land of immigrant hyphens in the 1970s: Italian-American, Irish-American, Polish-American, and Hungarian-American, just to name a few... And someone in the book tries to make identity lemonade out of identity lemons. Most memories are sad, bitter, others are touched by a feeling of homesickness and goodness. A anti-corporate sentiment flows effortlessly through the book.A Middle-Aged Student's Guide to Social Work by Dave Newman is a touching memory of a guy who cared about the people he encountered in his office. The most profound question in the book, in my humble opinion, is asked by Dave Newman:Narrative therapy asks: Are you telling your stories or are your stories telling you? If you’re only telling the worst about yourself in the worst possible way then you need to find a way to change your story, to focus on the strengths, to find a story that includes the best parts of your life. It’s like in Hamlet: For there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. Cleveland's Little Iraq by Huda Al-Marashi, introduces the reader to the Muslim experience in the Midwest. The real mosque, with it gilded dome and minarets, was the meeting place of Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians, but no Iraqis. American-born Huda could barely speak her mother tongue, and only shared a cultural heritage with the new immigrants. She found Iraqis, Pakistanis Afghanis and Iranians at a second mosque in an old converted church in Brecksville. She needed people who could stand in as aunts, uncles, grandparents for her own children. What I take away from the book is the rainbow of colorful memories by a carefully selected group of authors to serve a specific (often) political narrative including talking points such as racism, feminism, cultural identity, etc. Jewish, Muslim, Black, and (apologetic) white voices reminiscence about the old days, starting in the early fifties with the great migration to the suburbs, and aptly called white-flight in this book as well, to the current era of Trumpism and how it happened. However, the book also illustrates the migration from city to suburb in the Fifties, the debauchery and social revolution of the Sixties and Seventies (the post-industrial population decline), the gentrification and beautification of the cities again by Millennials, with a migration back to central zones, away from expensive suburban abodes, expensive cars and freeways and highways which have become almost impossible to maintain. A full circle migration through two or three generations of families redefining their own destiny. It is a fascinating journey to follow, and this book brings the insight into this process with really well-written detailed tales providing history and current events in one place: The 606 trail in Chicago; the ecology of home ground; The Henry Ford era in which cars rolled the dice for urban close-knit communities who had to be pushed out of their homes and family-owned business to make way for highways and by-ways; the coal mining wars; the pollution claiming so many lives; the history of Akron, Ohio, the Rubber Capital of the World; the lead-poisoned bath water of Flint, and everything else that can be read into the debris and scrapyards of the Rust Belt. The change in mobility redefined migration. That Better Place; or, the Problem with Mobility by G.M. Donley, explains the concept perfectly, providing excellent insight into property markets and new developments. The Rust Belt has proven to be an ideal laboratory for exploring the practical problems associated with a society habituated to easy mobility, specifically what results when mobility outruns population growth. Booming growth tends to mask economic and social side effects. But lucky us, we haven’t had any booming growth for a while, so the results are plain to see here. The re-'colonization' of the cities brought another thought to me. A few centuries ago it was the religious missionaries who first arrived on new continents and changed the face of ancient lands forever, since they were soon followed by big business, governments, and wars ensued to claim new territories. It happened for thousands of years all over the planet, just to bring this aspect into perspective.Nowadays it is artists who claim old factories, turn them into lofts, followed then by coffee bars, art galleries, musicians, restaurants, etc. Soon old histories are written by a new generation. New life grows on buried stories and old ruins. Hubris always lands the punch line. The inclusion of This Is a Place by Kathryn M. Flinn, pushed this experience for me over the four star rating right into the five star zone. Kathryn Flinn is an assistant professor of biology at Baldwin Wallace University in Berea, Ohio, and grew up in western Pennsylvania. She grew up walking the Rails-to-Trails path with her family. The trail passed the sewage treatment plant, the recycling center and ends at the coal-fired power plant that released more sulfur dioxide into the air than any other plant in the nation. The trail, which she preferred to call the Trail of Ecological Destruction, was lined with invasive shrubs, and it crossed creeks turned orange by acid mine drainage. This experience was one of the reasons she left the area and become an ecologist. But it was also this trail that led to her discovery of the wonders of nature where it was least expected. This essay is, for me at least, a metaphor of what it means to take a looking glass and discover the small wonders in the world around us. She is teaching her students to look for natural wonders in their back yards, their inner cities, their railway tunnels and overgrown old buildings. We should find the small wonders everywhere, not only in the exotic rain forests of the world. And when we do find it, our old environment becomes a new experience entirely. This is how urban wastelands, wetlands and humblest of parks restoration become the glory of the new generations. It all starts with paying attention. Who remember Annie Dillard's book Pilgrim at Tinker Creek? Annie Dillard was a housewife who discovered more than just life in the city through her magnifying glass. Edward Abbey spent his formative years in western Pennsylvania. We can manage ecosystems everywhere, even in a CVS parking lot. It is well to cultivate adults who can pay attention and continue to learn from nature. “Those who dwell, as scientists or laymen, among the beauties and mysteries of the earth, are never alone or weary of life,” wrote Rachel Carson, who developed her sense of wonder in an industrial city near Pittsburgh. But as a society we also need citizens who take responsibility for the ways they interact with nature. This may be best learned through the intimate and practical interactions we can only have with the landscapes in which we live. Most of these places wrote their histories in smells, such as Akron, Ohio: Akron’s population between 1910 and 1920, transforming it from a sleepy former canal town to the thirty-second largest city in America. It is a smell laced with melancholy, ambivalence, and nostalgia—for it was the smell of an era that was quickly coming to an end (although I was far too young to be aware of this fact at the time). It was sometimes the smell of tragedy. - from Confessions of a Rust Belt Orphan; or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Akron by Jason Segedy.Another thought from this essay (and one of the final ones in the book): The machine runs until it breaks down, then it is replaced with a new and more efficient one—a perfectly ironic metaphor for an industrial society that killed the goose that laid the golden egg. It was a machine made up of unions, and management, and capitalized sunk costs, and supply chains, and commodity prices, and globalization. Add the devastating vicissitudes of outsourcing, big business, big industry to the tombstone of prosperity in the Rust Belt and the challenges for future generations become more clear. There are trends worldwide of moving back to small business owners with the store downstairs and the family homes upstairs. It's a slow evolution, but it's happening.Similar (non-political) content can be found in novels of authors such as Richard Russo (all his books), Tom Robbins (Jitterbug Perfume), John Hart (Redemption Road, Tom Franklin (Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter), Matthew J. Sullivan (Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore, Wiley Cash( A Land More Kind Than Home) or Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney . There are numerous similar books of course. But the essays in this book also fit perfectly into the National Geographic realm of the complexity of destruction and reinvention in all its glory. This book compliments the non-fictional smashing bestseller Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance. However, Voices from the Rust Belt has a unique overtone of its own, if you care for essays and the Rust Belt and would like to experience it in a synopsis. Hillbilly was a more personal, emotionally intense recollection by its author, while Voices from the Rust Belt is a more journalese, almost scholarly overview of the same topic/region. Voices might be riding on the back of Hillbilly Elegy. My review of Hillbilly Elegy: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...)I really, really enjoyed this full-bodied, diversified and heartfelt memoirs of an American landscape in all its different moments in time. Old tales and new beginnings. A vision of hope and undying optimism. Of correcting the past by building new futures. Of new generations honoring yesteryear while making new discoveries right on their doorsteps. Definitely RECOMMENDED!! I want to thank Anne Trubek, Picador Publishers and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this book.more
- January 1, 1970Cheri!! NOW AVAILABLE !!Edited by Anne Trubek, this collection of essays on The Rust Belt , covering what it is, where it is, and why it matters, are broken up into four sections with essays:GROWING UP – ‘A Girl’s Youngstown’ by Jacqueline Marino; ‘The Kidnapped Children of Detroit’ by Marsha Music; ‘Busing, a White Girl’s Tale’ by Amanda Shaffer; ‘Moundsville’ by David Faulk; ‘North Park, With and Without Hate’ by Jeff Z. Klein; and ‘Love and Survival: A Flint Romance’DAY TO DAY IN THE RUST BELT !! NOW AVAILABLE !!Edited by Anne Trubek, this collection of essays on The Rust Belt , covering what it is, where it is, and why it matters, are broken up into four sections with essays:GROWING UP – ‘A Girl’s Youngstown’ by Jacqueline Marino; ‘The Kidnapped Children of Detroit’ by Marsha Music; ‘Busing, a White Girl’s Tale’ by Amanda Shaffer; ‘Moundsville’ by David Faulk; ‘North Park, With and Without Hate’ by Jeff Z. Klein; and ‘Love and Survival: A Flint Romance’DAY TO DAY IN THE RUST BELT –‘A Middle-Aged Student’s Guide to Social Work’ by Dave Newman; ‘Fresh to Death’ by Eric Woodyard; ‘Rust Belt Heroin Chic’ by Ben Gwin; ‘Will Blacks Rise or Be Forgotten in the New Buffalo?’ by Henry Louis Taylor Jr.’ ‘Can Detroit Save White People?’ by Aaron Foley and ’Cleveland’s Little Iraq’ by Huda Al-Marashi.GEOGRAPHY OF THE HEARTLAND – ‘A Night at the Golden Lion Lounge’ by John Lloyd Clayton; ‘Family Bones’ by Ryan Schmurr; ‘The Fauxtopias of Detroit’s Suburbs’ by James D. Griffwen; ‘Pretty Things to Hang on the Wall’ by Eric Anderson; ‘King Coal and the West Virginia Mine Wars Museum’ by Carolyne Whelan; ‘Seed or Weed: On the Evolution of Chicago’s Bloomingdale Trail’ by Martha Bayne; ‘This Is a Place’ by Kathryn M. Flinn; ‘That Better Place; or, the Problem with Mobility’ by G.M. DonleyLEAVING AND STAYING‘Losing Lakewood’ by Sally Errico; ‘Notes from the Expatriate Underground’ by Margaret Sullivan; ‘Confessions of a Rust Belt Orphan; or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Akron’ by Jason Segedy; ‘Bathtime’ by Connor CoyneIn the introduction, Anne Trubek addresses ‘Why the Rust Belt Matters (and What It Is)’”The name was largely created in 1984 by, of all people, Walter Mondale. At a campaign stop during the presidential election, Mondale made a speech to steelworkers at the LTV plant in Cleveland…” saying “Reagan’s policies are turning our industrial Midwest into a rust bowl.” The press, who can’t seem to resist, rename it the ‘Rust Belt’ as a play on the ‘Sun Belt.’ She touches on the drop in demand for steel from World War II to the 1970s, and the jobs that disappeared. She discusses the “most symbolic date in Rust Belt history” – Black Monday, when Youngstown Sheet and Tube in Ohio closed their doors. Forty thousand plus jobs evaporated. What followed? The population, which peaked in the 1970s has been declining since. This area includes Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, parts of Illinois, Wisconsin and New York. Cities like Buffalo, Detroit, Cleveland, Flint, and some of the areas that surround these places. The thing is, there are no real borders to the “Rust Belt.” No one is going to build a wall to make sure no other places are affected in any way resembling how these areas were. So it would behoove us to pay attention to what has happened, what is happening, and what we can do now, and in the future. This touches on many topics – minority populations, including Muslim populations, Orthodox Jewish populations and more. ”…in 1900, over 75 percent of the Cleveland, Ohio, were foreign born or first-generation immigrants.” One of my favourite essays was ‘Cleveland’s Little Iraq,’ a story of a married couple, both children of Iraqi immigrants, doubting they’d find a Muslim community in this new place where they’d moved after living in Queens, a completely different, foreign way of life. Another was ‘Moundsville’ by David Faulk, who talks about growing up in Moundsville, West Virginia, and being shunned by Pittsburghers and Clevelanders, shunned by the rest of West Virginia. ‘A Night at the Golden Lion Lounge’ by John Lloyd Clayton was delightful, about a gay bar where time has less stopped than never actually caught up in the first place.” “Take away the cellular phones and color photographs and it could be q9w9, you sliding in you’re your brother-in-law after a terrible day on the stock market. Stonewall could be two days away. The eight-six Camaro parked out back? It might actually just be new. Gary himself might range from thirty to six-eight, but in this light he’s ageless.” And then there’s ‘Bathtime’ which just broke my heart. Some of the topics addressed: ”segregated schools, rural childhoods, suburban ennui, lead poisoning, opiate addiction, and job loss.” Then there are those essays about ”happy childhoods, successful community ventures, warm refused for outsiders, and hidden oases of natural beauty.” Most, if not all, are personal. Their own memories of life then and now. Some of these are very powerful. All are worth reading. A few had me smiling, a few had me in tears. ”… there is power in simply bearing witness. Pub Date: 03 APR 2018Many thanks for the ARC provided by Picador USAmore
- January 1, 1970NancyVoices From the Rust Belt is an offering of essays edited by Anne Trubek on the legacy of a post-industrial world in the once great manufacturing centers including Buffalo, Detroit, Flint, Akron, and Chicago.I found these essays to be beautifully written and personally moving. I savored each essay, reading them one at a time. The stories are about places I know, stories I am familiar with.These are stories that break my heart.Getting PersonalI am a Rust Belt girl.I spent my first ten years of li Voices From the Rust Belt is an offering of essays edited by Anne Trubek on the legacy of a post-industrial world in the once great manufacturing centers including Buffalo, Detroit, Flint, Akron, and Chicago.I found these essays to be beautifully written and personally moving. I savored each essay, reading them one at a time. The stories are about places I know, stories I am familiar with.These are stories that break my heart.Getting PersonalI am a Rust Belt girl.I spent my first ten years of life just north of Buffalo until 1963 when my family moved to the Detroit suburbs so my dad could find work in the auto industry. With a high school education and hands-on experience, he was able to get a good job with benefits. My grandfather was a GM engineer, my brother is a Ford engineer, and other family members worked on the line.My husband is from outside of Flint, MI, where his father worked at Fisher Body and his grandmother, a GM employee, was in the Woman's Brigade during the famous sit-down strike. My husband's brother was the third generation to be a Flint resident and he raised his children there.As a young wife, I lived in and around Philadelphia, including in one of the earliest industrial centers, surrounded by empty factories. We returned to Michigan, for a while living in Lansing a short way from the downtown GM assembly plant. At retirement, we moved into my family home in Metro Detroit.Our families were lucky. Dad often mused that he had seen the best days of working in the auto industry. Dad survived several downsizing cuts thanks to his seniority. My dad-in-law took advantage of early retirement and lived into his nineties, spending more time retired than in his career. But he had to watch the Flint and Grand Blanc plants die. Looking Deeper Between the PagesThe book is divided into thematic sections.Growing UpJaqueline Marino's A Girl's Youngstown begins with memories of the 1970s pollution that made her and her sister hold their breath when crossing the Market Street Bridge. It made me recall the smell of entering Tonawanda, driving up the River Road past the Ashland gasoline storage tanks.The Kidnapped Children of Detroit by Marsha Music recalls White Flight and ponders how today Detroit can move forward without the crippling divisions of the past. Busing, A White Girl's Tale by Amanda Shaffer considers what she gained from the experience. North Park, With and Without Hate by Jeff Z. Klein recounts growing up Jewish in Buffalo when prejudice was out in the open. Life on the "slag heap of society" is presented by David Faulk in Moundsville. In Love and Survival: A Flint Romance, Layla Meiller admits her hometown taught her a pervasive sense of vulnerability.Day to Day in the Rust BeltDave Newman talks about starting over in mid-life in A Middle-Aged Student's Guide to Social Work as he learns the limitations of social work. Fresh to Death is Eric Woodyard's recounting of his double life drinking in a Flint neighborhood bar at night while working as an award-winning sportswriter by day. Ben Gwin shares a heartbreaking story of addiction in Rust Belt Heroin Chic. Henry Louis Taylor Jr. asks Will Blacks Rise or Be Forgotten in the New Buffalo, proving that the racial division of progress plagues Rust Belt cities other than Detroit. Aaron Foley asks Can Detroit Save White People? Huda Al-Marashi writes about Cleveland's Little Iraq community.Geography of the HeartlandJohn Lloyd Clayton remembers a Cincinnati gay bar in A Night at the Golden Lion Lounge. The lack of identity in assimilated white European families is addressed in Ryan Schnurr's Family Bones. The Fauxtopias of Detroit's Suburbs by James D. Griffioen discusses Henry Ford's legacy, from the Rouge plant to Greenfield Village's idyllic nostalgia that whitewashes history. Eric Anderson juxtaposes working in the steel mills, gentrification, and art in Cleveland in Pretty Things to Hang on the Wall. I learned that "redneck" came from the red bandannas worn by Matewan unionizers in King Coal and the West Virginia Mine Wars Museum by Carolyne Whelan. Martha Bayne questions accident or intention in Seed or Weed? On the Evolution of Chicago's Bloomingdale Trail Ecologist Kathryn M. Flinn realizes the diversity of Rust Belt ecology in This Is A Place. Mobility as benefit or detriment is considered in That Better Place; or the Problem with Mobility by G. M. Donley. Donley looks at how historic suburban growth impacted downtowns and offers ways to improve where we live instead of chasing the 'dream home' elsewhere.Leaving and StayingThe pursuit of a relationship brings Sally Errico to move in Losing Lakewood. Notes from the Expatriate Underground by Margaret Sullivan is about nostalgic Buffalo natives looking for connection. Confessions of a Rust Belt Orphan; or, How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love Akron by Jason Segedy recalls the 'smell of good jobs' when Akron was the Rubber Capital of the World. Our idealistic image of an upward line of progress must be replaced with the cycle of boom and bust. And Connor Coyne talks about what it is like to bath a baby in Flint Water in Bathtime.ThoughtsVoices from the Rust Belt will be poignant reading for those of us associated with these cities. We will connect with some readings, and definitely will learn we are not alone. I was surprised how Buffalo's experience of white flight was not too unlike Detroit's. The stories will inform those who want to understand the Rust Belt experience on the personal level. There are essays that dig deeper, dissecting a history of public policy and boom and bust economics that contributed to the decline of these cities. Best of all, included are some suggestions for moving forward.This book could also be a good discussion started in the classroom or in a book club.I received a free ebook from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.more
- January 1, 1970KathleenThis is a very thought-provoking collection of essays. In the introduction, the editor explains that the term "Rust Belt" is not defined by geography, there are no borders to this region. "...anywhere an economy was previously based on manufacturing and has since been losing population can be part of the gang."I grew up in the Midwest in an agricultural village, just a few hours drive from many Rust Belt cities. The essays in this book are by professionals who grew up in these changing cities, a This is a very thought-provoking collection of essays. In the introduction, the editor explains that the term "Rust Belt" is not defined by geography, there are no borders to this region. "...anywhere an economy was previously based on manufacturing and has since been losing population can be part of the gang."I grew up in the Midwest in an agricultural village, just a few hours drive from many Rust Belt cities. The essays in this book are by professionals who grew up in these changing cities, and describe how they were shaped by them. Even without a direct connection to these cities, as a rural Midwesterner, I can absolutely relate to the affection one can have for a place that may have been dysfunctional, but becomes so much a part of one's identity. Some of my favorite stories involve Flint, Michigan. I went on a few road trips when I lived in the Midwest to some Flint Generals minor league hockey games in the early 2000s. Every trip was an adventure and Flint was a perfect place to go for some gritty minor league hockey. I moved to the Washington, DC area in 2008 and whenever I meet someone with roots in Flint, they have a voice that is very real, unspoiled, and there's always a perseverance that may even seem absurd given the stories that they tell. I am not native to the Rust Belt, but these voices describe life as I know it as well.Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an advance copy for review.more
- January 1, 1970BobSummary: A collection of essays from those living, or who have lived, in Rust Belt cities from Buffalo to Chicago, and Flint, Michigan to Moundsville, West Virginia.I grew up in the archetypal Rust Belt town of Youngstown and write about that experience (you can find all my posts in the ""On Youngstown" category on my blog). I left before it acquired the Rust Belt name, in 1976. Back then, it was the "industrial heartland" until the industrial part was gutted in the late 1970's and early 1980's. Summary: A collection of essays from those living, or who have lived, in Rust Belt cities from Buffalo to Chicago, and Flint, Michigan to Moundsville, West Virginia.I grew up in the archetypal Rust Belt town of Youngstown and write about that experience (you can find all my posts in the ""On Youngstown" category on my blog). I left before it acquired the Rust Belt name, in 1976. Back then, it was the "industrial heartland" until the industrial part was gutted in the late 1970's and early 1980's. I witnessed the effects in three of the cities I've lived in, Toledo, Cleveland, and Youngstown, and so was naturally interested in reviewing this collection of essays from those with connections to the Rust Belt cities of the Midwest, from Chicago to Buffalo.The book is organized into four sections, the first of which was "Growing Up," which coincidentally opens with an essay from a fellow Youngstown native, Jacqueline Marino. She writes of childhood visits to her grandmother on South Pearl St, covering her mouth as she crossed the Market Street Bridge near the steel mills, and then the changes she saw in her grandmother's neighborhood and the city as the mills closed, the influence of organized crime in the city (everyone played "the bug"), and the rich memories that she carries to this day of her Italian grandparents kitchen and the oasis it provided in a gritty city. The essay is followed by a Detroit native talking about white flight and the 'kidnapped children' who disappeared as families fled the city, a white Clevelander talking about the positive impact of busing on her life, of ethnic hatreds in a Jewish neighborhood in Buffalo, growing up on an Ohio River town home to the West Virginia Penitentiary, and the theft and recovery of a bicycle in Flint.The second group of essays traces "Day to Day in the Rust Belt" and makes it clear there is no single Rust Belt story. There is the middle-aged social worker in Pittsburgh trying to help a down and out alcoholic when his agency cannot. There is the young life lost to street violence in Flint, the separated couple, both coming out of substance abuse, one more successfully than the other, trying to care for a daughter, remain civil with each other, and pull their lives together. There is an essay on the contrast between Buffalo "boosterism" and the black communities that are more or less left out, the odd phenomenon of a white arts culture thinking they will find salvation, as well as low rent, in Detroit. Finally, we learn about a thriving Iraqi community in Cleveland, one of many such ethnic communities aborning in the Midwest.The third section explores "The Geography of the Heartland" beginning with a legendary gay bar in the Clifton neighborhood of Cincinnati, a visit to an old family home in Indiana (how many of us have gone back to old homesteads to find them derelict, or in my own case, vanished?), the "fauxtopia" of Henry Ford's Greenfield Village and the contrast between the exurban dream Ford's automobiles made possible, and the remnants of the city that was abandoned. Another essay attacks the artists who supplanted industrial workers in Cleveland for their pretensions when what has drawn them is the low cost of living (what is this thing against artists?). A descendent of the West Virginia McCoys reflects on the history of coal mining in the West Virginia Mine Wars Museum, a couple essays reflect on urban ecologies in Chicago and Cleveland."Leaving or Staying"--a dilemma faced by many Rust Belt natives is the subject of the last section. A young woman describes finding a delightful neighborhood in Lakewood only to flee it due to a failed love affair. A long-time Buffalo resident talks about the toleration of ex-pats only to become one. An Akron native describes staying in the former Rubber Capital. The collection closes with a poignant narrative of a father bathing his daughter in the lead-polluted water of Flint, Michigan, and the panic when she tries to drink some and what it is like when a basic necessity like water is so dangerous.Nearly all the essays focused on personal narrative. One stood out as taking a larger look at the challenges of renewal faced by Rust Belt cities, titled "That Better Place; or the Problem with Mobility." Written by a Cleveland Heights native, it describes the impacts of mobility and the consequences: too much retail space, housing, stressed tax bases, persistent segregation, how school ratings become real estate marketing tools (a particular problem in Ohio) and five proposals to address these challenges.I noted earlier that there is no single Rust Belt story. While this is true, it was also striking that all these essays describe the problems and the struggle of displacement, of "making it" for those who live in Rust Belt cities. Perhaps the most hopeful story in the collection was of "Little Iraq" in Cleveland and the white woman who was positively impacted by busing. One thing such a collection makes clear is that "turnaround" stories often can be selective with whole populations left behind due to inferior schools and persisting patterns of racialization. Yet I also wonder where are the narratives of those who have overcome the challenges of the Rust Belt, who remember the past but are not trapped in it, and are rolling up their sleeves to make the most of the new economy? The essay by Jason Segedy on loving Akron comes closest to this with his refusal to look for the Next Big Thing (a temptation in all of these cities) and instead begin with "little plans" that might be scaled up with success. I just would have liked one or two essays by those who have done what he proposes. Where are these Rust Belt stories?The Rust Belt is in my blood, probably literally. I've lived in some of these places, visited most of them, and the stories in this book give a cross-section of life as it was and is that is recognizable. Yet I also wish the collection would have captured more of the dynamism of those working to reclaim neighborhoods and mixed use zoning, to start new businesses, and to build a new civic life while sustaining the rich ethnic and cultural heritages of these cities, from cuisine to high culture.When we lived in Cleveland, I used to joke that Clevelanders actually made up the jokes about Cleveland to keep everybody else away. I wonder if it is time for narratives that are honest about the challenges, but instead of keeping people away, or resenting those like artists who come, propose how our Rust Belt cities might be good places for those up for the challenge, be they artists, activists, businesses, inventors, entrepreneurs, crafts and tradespeople--or even writers!____________________________Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary advance review copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.more
- January 1, 1970Joni HaynesI was really happy to win this book from Goodreads. It will be out in April of next year. It, however, was not what I was expecting. I was expecting to see stories from everyday people who have been and are affected by "de-industrialization", not only in places like Flint, MI, Detroit, MI, parts of Ohio and Pennsylvania...but all over the country. As it turned out, nearly every story is written by an author, teacher, academic, or the like. And, most of the stories are attempting to place blame f I was really happy to win this book from Goodreads. It will be out in April of next year. It, however, was not what I was expecting. I was expecting to see stories from everyday people who have been and are affected by "de-industrialization", not only in places like Flint, MI, Detroit, MI, parts of Ohio and Pennsylvania...but all over the country. As it turned out, nearly every story is written by an author, teacher, academic, or the like. And, most of the stories are attempting to place blame for their situations. For instance, one story blames "mobility"...meaning people can move away if they don't have work...and claims that when people move, they just abandon their homes for new ones. I have to doubt this...people generally sell homes when they move. Also, they blame the companies that they say "nurtured" them for decades for moving, some even overseas. Well, companies have to be profitable, or they cannot continue...so of course, they are going to move toward profitability. As for overseas moves, personally (even though I was a staunch union member for at least 30 years), I attribute some of the blame to unions. They did so much good, but finally priced their members out of the market. American companies couldn't compete on the open market; everyone started buying cheaper, foreign goods. So, companies decided to hire workers overseas, because they could pay them less than American workers demanded. I don't see any of this in the book, so it's basically a one-sided picture.more
- January 1, 1970KendraI grew up in a rust belt town, but this was too bleak for me
- January 1, 1970Rhonda LomazowI grew up in New York really far from The rust belt in every way.This book of essays opened my eyes to their lives struggles heartaches a really well written fascinating introduction to their world.Thanks #macmillan-picador& NetGalley for advance Galley.more
- January 1, 1970ShelleyThere are some extremely good pieces in this collection, particularly those by Marsha Music, David Faulk, Dave Newman, and Ben Gwin (although it's hard to pick a handful to single out; there are some very strong voices).
- January 1, 1970LizIf you're looking for a thought provoking commentary on what has been happening to the "Post-Industrial Midwest", this is the book for you. A wide variety of voices present various aspects of that culture. They range the spectrum from happy memories to tragic lives. Mostly they left me shaking my head and wondering if there are any answers. A worthwhile read.I won a copy of this book in a Goodreads giveaway for this honest review.more
- January 1, 1970Leah AngstmanReview coming soon to a major outlet. Will update when published.
- January 1, 1970Lisa of HopewellI learned of this book from this blog post: https://novelsandnonfiction.com/2018/...
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