You Don't Have to Live Like This

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9780062376602: You Don't Have to Live Like This

Greg Marnier, Marney to his friends, has a story to tell about leaving a job he didn't much like and what happened to him when he moved to Detroit, Michigan, in 2011, where an old friend had a big idea about real estate and the revitalization of a once great American city. It's a story that involves a fistfight between two friends, an act of vigilante justice, a racially charged trial, a love affair with a colleague, a game of three-on-three basketball with the president of the United States and the money-soaked real estate project itself.Cut out of six hundred acres of emaciated Detroit, the development is described by Marney's billionaire buddy from Yale, Robert James, the plan's creator, as the "Groupon model for gentrification." Everyone else calls it "New Jamestown." Marney used to live there before Robert himself asked him to leave. This is the story of what went wrong.You Don't Have to Live Like This is the breakout novel from the "fabulously real" (The Guardian) voice of the only American included in Granta's Best of Young British Novelists. Using the framework of our present reality, Benjamin Markovits blurs the line between the fictive and the fact-based, and teases out an otherwise invisible current running through American politics, economics and society that is waiting to explode.

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Ten years out of Yale, with an extra degree from Oxford, and all Greg Marnier has to show for it is a rambling academic career that has landed him in Aberystwyth. At his college reunion, jetlagged and drunk, he runs into an old friend who offers him an extraordinary way out.

Robert James, wealthy and influential, a success story of the dotcom bubble, wants to become a political player. His plan: to buy up several abandoned neighbourhoods in Detroit - the poster child for urban decline - and build a new America from their boarded-up ruins. For a small investment, Marnier can transform himself into a twenty-first-century pioneer. The realities of life on America's urban frontier soon become apparent. For every hopeful misfit who's come for a fresh start there's a native Detroiter whose patch is being swallowed up by the new colonials. Marnier finds himself caught in the middle of everyone else's battles - between local and outsider, rich and poor, black and white - until a terrible accident forces him to take sides.

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"A portion of this novel appeared, in slightly different form, in the Spring 2013 issue of Granta."

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