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Motor City Blues [Paperback]

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Item description for Motor City Blues by Peter Ohren...

Meet Todd Foster, a second-year law student at Wayne State University. Living in the crumbling core of the city of Detroit, Todd tries to reconcile the world he inhabits with that championed by his Harvard-educated academic advisor and the affluent parents of his girlfriend, Sarah Lane. Under the unsteady influence of larger-than-life Tartarian, a cocaine-snorting, pot-smoking social work major at Wayne State on the ten-year plan, Todd locks horns with his uptight roommates, the junkies who live next door, and Boyd Crane, the Lanes' beau-of-choice for their naive daughter. Todd Foster is a young man we all know. He is a twentieth-century pilgrim struggling with life's big questions. But he is increasingly tripped up by the unpleasant realities that rain down upon him, ultimately precipitating a foolish act of symbolic rebellion with near-tragic consequences. A darkly funny parable, Motor City Blues explores a Detroit both familiar and strange, one filtered through Todd's drug-fueled confusion and frustration. Combining scathing social commentary with a classic search for identity, Peter Ohren's third novel is an entertaining and provocative story of despair and redemption.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   164
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.9" Width: 5.9" Height: 0.4"
Weight:   0.55 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Mar 19, 2007
Publisher   Casperian Books LLC
ISBN  1934081051  
ISBN13  9781934081051  

Availability  0 units.

More About Peter Ohren

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Contemporary
2Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Literary

Reviews - What do customers think about Motor City Blues?

Riding the Blues  Jan 17, 2008
Reviewed by Dr. Michael Philliber for Reader Views (1/08)

What do you get when you bring together social criticism, high-octane drug addiction, failing grades, nihilism, and vengeance? You end up with Peter Ohren's character, Todd Foster, in his new book, "Motor City Blues." Todd is an exasperating 25-year-old law student at Wayne State University in the 1990s, whose life is slowly coming apart at the seams. Each chapter takes the reader along with Todd down through one mistake after another, until the roof finally, and literally, caves in on him.

Ohren has done an excellent job of depicting the intelligently muddled machinations of a substance abuser. He reveals the voices in Todd's head, and the discussions he has with himself, as he attempts to sort out all the mess he's been making of his academic and love life. There are sadly humorous moments when Todd sees clearly that he has screwed things up, and then immediately starts blaming his mother and step-father, the school administration, or some other target of his victimhood. Toward the end, while he is lying in the hospital recovering from his car roof crashing in on him, he is confronted with the possibility that he might have a substance abuse problem. He immediately shifts into denial with the "I can handle it, I don't have a problem" line of thinking.

Another enjoyable aspect of the story, that had a humorous texture to it, was the social criticism. Here was a young law student, living off of someone else's largess while disparaging the very system that was giving him an opportunity that others don't have, and he was blowing it away on cocaine and parties. For example, when Todd chides the memory of his ex-girlfriend because she was wealthy and would thus be spared from "the harsh realities of real life" (159), he doesn't even recognize that he has likewise been spared the same harsh realities because his family bails him out of the consequences of his actions. Even his troublesome friends, Tartarian and Gina, were finding money from somewhere (presumably their scholarships or grants) which they too were snorting away in high quantities, while officiously railing against the system. Their inability to see their hypocrisy is quite comical.

One of the difficulties in the book was the sometimes forced mixture of theology, philosophy, and social commentary. In the tedious discussions about the meaning or meaninglessness of life, Nietzsche and Sartre are discussed (and Kant is hinted at), nothing is ever resolved, and the discussions seem to have little real place in the story line. There was a similar trend with regard to some of the characters' social pontifications as well.

The author did a good job of keeping my attention, and I found that as Todd's life was unraveling I wanted to get to the next chapter to find out if he would finally see the coming collision and slam on the brakes. There does seem to be a bit of maturing in Todd toward the end of the book, especially when he takes up the responsibility of repaying his biological father who loaned him the money he needed to pay for his damages at the law school.

Though I found "Motor City Blues" a bit frustrating at times with the forced philosophical dialogue, social criticism, and the painful misuse of the divine name in profanity, overall it was a readable story about the downward spiral of Todd Foster that is probably very close to what many experience in the university scene.

Gritty and funny  Aug 20, 2007
Motor City Blues is a wonderful mix grit and hope. The protagonist's rather bumpy and darkly comic personal journey is delivered against a larger backdrop that gives the story real depth. You'll feel for Todd Foster, cheer for him, and cringe at his stumbles along the way. Peter Ohren delivers in this quick, satisfying read in a way few novels do these days.

Bittersweet blues  Mar 29, 2007
This is a quick read in which a law student with a sense of social justice repeatedly throws himself under the wheels of wealth and privilege in Detroit. It's social commentary that will make laugh, cry, or both while you root and groan for its "loser" hero.

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