Steeped in the language and images the author was raised on, this fractured memoir explores the nature of utopian impulses and how they break downfrom 19th-century spiritual movements to 1960s radicalism to the current hopes for Barack Obama. Melding the influence of such varied ideas as Dorothy Parker quips, Beat diatribes, Victorian childrens stories, and the crumbling beauty and very real danger of downtown Detroit, the writing is related closely to traditional lyricism, while also surveying narrative, mystery, memory, and the emotional effect of language on a reader. With research subjects ranging from communes and hippie cookbooks to surrealism and the MC5, no subjects here escape the search for profundity.

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