I received this hefty book for Christmas from my dad. It contains a lot of great photos of the city I grew up near. Enclosed in the pages of the book was this New Yorker article about the book and its forward written by Elmore Leonard, also a native of suburban Detroit. It is mentioned in the article and forward that “Julia believes it should be preserved and appreciated any way it is, not restored.” Urban decay is beautiful, I agree, but honestly it seems like an insensitive statement from a resident of Bloomfield Hills. You could call her a poverty tourist. I know for a fact that many Detroiters are annoyed by all the hipsters from Europe who come in droves to photograph the urban blight. But in some ways I am inclined to agree with the author. (I too have the privilege of viewing the city from afar and on occasional visits home to another affluent suburb.) The people of Detroit deserve our compassion and it is sad to see some truly beautiful old buildings fall into unsalvagable disrepair, but at this point it might not be all bad to allow the city to slowly return to nature.
The New Yorker Article ends with reference to Elmore Leonard’s teasing attention to the origin of the holes in Julia Taubman’s jeans.