September 23, 2011 by Amy Elliott Bragg
Night Train to Detroit: The Book. Sort of.
Have we ever met over drinks? If so, you may have witnessed this thing I do, mostly when I’ve been drinking: I get excited about some story, and start it some distance from the natural beginning of the story, and embroider it the whole way through with side-winding detail, and sometimes forget the story at hand completely, and sometimes repeat things over and over again, because I am lost in the story and trying to machete my way out of it.
Allegedly, I once told a story about how much my dad likes Wayne Newton — for 45 minutes. In which time I must have indulged the unabridged and tangled tale of my entire family. Starting from Russia. Ending with an elopement in Las Vegas. Or something.
If you’ve never had the fortune/misfortune of watching this happen (people tell me it’s really entertaining!) — or if you have, and you want that experience available to you at a whim, in your very own living room, without worrying whether I am going to spill my beer on you — I have some good news.
Today I am proud to announce that my book, Hidden History of Detroit, is available for pre-order.
It looks like this!
It’s a slim volume, but it’s packed with stories teased from the margins, asides and back-alleys of Detroit history. Stories that sprawl and bend recklessly around the curves of chronological time. Stories like the ones I tell over drinks:
- The haphazard history of Detroit’s city-owned cemeteries, and some of the people therein we lost track of
- Historic homes of early Detroit that sat empty and vandalized for years, lamented in newspaper editorials
and by preservationists, and torn down to make way for high-rises and hotels
- The parties. Oh my gosh, the parties. Parties so famous that people celebrated the centennial anniversary of those parties. Parties where dignified state officials got drool-drunk. Parties that people wrote odes to!
- French ponies, pony races, pony-carts, and the narrow, muddy streets those pony-carts slogged through
- Liquor laws — did you know that Michigan was under prohibition from 1855 – 1875? — and the rowdy saloons that defied them
- And, if you’ve been reading this blog for a while, LOTS of familiar faces: Silas Farmer, Gabriel Richard, grouchy Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, Jim Scott, Stevens T. Mason (and his foxy sister Emily!), amusement king David McKinstry, and, of course and always and forever, General Friend Palmer
It’s a curiosity cabinet, a laboratory of memory, a crowded barroom, and, I hope, a hell of a fun read.
More details to come soon. Including and especially the RELEASE PARTY! Which I hope people will write about 100 years from now as one of the great release parties of the era.
So far, the support from friends, loved ones and readers has been overwhelming and I am so grateful to all of you for making this possible. I can’t wait to meet some of you in person, give huge hugs to total strangers, and maybe get tipsy and splash my drink around while gesturing wildly during a run-on tale about something obscure.
THE NIGHT TRAIN