It's widely known that Detroit's heyday has been over for quite some time, with the decline of the city's auto industry and its filing for bankruptcy. It's thought of as a city of crime and poverty, largely forgotten by the rest of the country, but what about the people who still live there? In The Downriver Horseshoe, Summerset Review contributor Scott Miles (his story "Ćupco" appeared in our Summer 2009 issue) analyzes the lives of the inhabitants of the Downriver neighborhood of Detroit, located on the metropolis' south side.
Miles' prose is brutal, but in the best way possible. His brutality isn't sheer violence and brawn, it is a new take on the situations and places that his characters find themselves in. Darkly funny and original, Miles has the talent to make the reader feel for characters who are in and of themselves pretty despicable (as in "When You're The Mailman," where a postal worker reveals that he doesn't exactly spend his days delivering mail). Miles analyzes aspects of the human condition like love (in "Mt. Trashmore," a dump worker named Simon Touhy finds himself enamored with a prosthetic leg he finds in the trash) and ennui (in "Freezer Burn," which was nominated for a Pushcart Prize, two friends are forced to contemplate the listlessness of their daily lives) and upends them, forcing us to contemplate these own things within us. Could we feel the way these characters feel? Their eroded humanity causes a great deal of self-reflection.
Though each of the stories has previously appeared in nationally published magazines like LIT, Cimarron Review, Needle: A Magazine of Noir, and Pebble Lake Review, they feel fresher, newer, here when strung together like popcorn kernels on a thread. When read consecutively, their gravity deepens, and the story of the city Miles loves so is better portrayed. The Downriver Horseshoe is better than a love letter—it is a testament of the people and city, warts and all, that Miles so adores.