Author Charlie LeDuff talks about returning to his hometown of Detroit

Feb 15, 2013

Detroit native, Charlie LeDuff is an author, journalist, and filmmaker, as well as a reporter for Fox News Detroit and The Detroit News .

He is also a former journalist for the New York Times and a 2001 Pulitzer Prize for his work on the New York Times piece "How Race is Lived in America."

Currently LeDuff has been gaining press for his newly published autobiography titled Detroit: an American Autopsy.

The book chronicles LeDuff's experience returning to his hometown of Detroit, finding the city he grew up in left in decay and ruins. 

Here is an excerpt taken from his interview with Fresh Air:

"It was really a pretty cool life, but then we had the kid and I noticed something. I noticed that I didn't belong in L.A. I had a daughter. We didn't belong to anybody. We weren't connected to anyone. Just to get to a park you had to cross two major boulevards, and I pictured my daughter at 14 with a halter top and blue mascara walking up and down Melrose, and my wife and I — she's also from Detroit — [thought] that we should just cash it in and come home so our daughter would have some roots and some structure and know her grandparents and her 20 cousins and her aunts and uncles, and I don't regret it in the least."

The full Fresh Air Interview can be heard below.

He uses his reporting background and knowledge not just to address current issues in the city but to investigate what led to the city becoming what it is today.

LeDuff  argues against labeling his book as "ruin porn."  That term refers to artists, photographers, and journalists focusing on abandoned buildings. He explains his focus is on the city's residents.

"I'm not writing about buildings, that's what people come here and do. They write about buildings and they take pictures of buildings and they seem to miss all the humanity that's here," he said. "We're living, breathing human beings who have dreams and children and wishes and hunger. That's who I'm writing about. I'm writing about how hard it is to get through this, but the fact is, we are. And we're fighters. So it's not ruin porn. It's about holding on."

Listen to the full Marketplace interview here.

His interview gives insight into what inspired him to write the book,  growing up in Detroit,  and what can be done to help the city in the future.

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