I requested You Don’t Have To Live Like This by Benjamin Markovits because it is a novel about the regeneration of Detroit. The whole idea of a previously industrial city being rejuvenated by artists and writers had always really appealed to me. This novel takes a harsher look at the gentrifying process and for that reason I found it intriguing.
Yet in spite of the premise, the book did not work all that well for me. It is a very male-centric book. I’d call it dick lit or lad lit or whatever the male equivalent of chick lit is. All the characters were male doing very male things.
But the writing is solid. Phrases like “the GroupOn model of gentrification” really appealed to me. Initially I found Markovits’ language a little peculiar. Certain phrases didn’t ring true for me. Then I discovered that he is an American living in Britain and that made perfect sense. Britishisms have crept into his language and I would have thought that a good editor would have picked up on it.
Who would like this book? There are a couple of things i can say about You Don’t Have To Live Like This. It is a very American and a very male novel. Though the setting – in Detroit – and many of the issues dealt with appeal to me, the novel just didn’t work. There is nothing wrong with it per se, I just felt it dragged.
I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book.