An Oxycodone addict just out of rehab, Robby Cooper has debts to pay
and a pregnant ex-girlfriend. As Robby struggles to jump-start his life
on the crumbling streets of Detroit and its suburbs, his grandfather Otto
invites him on a fly fishing road trip to northern Michigan.
Driving his grandfather's '68 Firebird, Robby begins to understand how
his family’s dysfunction spans generations...
Read an excerpt of the novel.
“Jeff Vande Zande’s Detroit Muscle ripples with tight, coiled detail and
dialogue as he weaves a compelling story of lives haunted by the mistakes of
the past—how quickly things can spiral out of control, and how hard it is to
rein them back in. Vande Zande offers no easy resolutions to his characters’
dilemmas, focusing instead on the difficult loosening of the tight knots of these
—Jim Ray Daniels, author of Eight Mile High, among others
“Detroit Muscle is a fearless examination of family and of loss,
a picaresque novel about putting these shattered pieces of our lives together
again—to examine them, to understand them, and to see how, if at all possible,
we can move past them. A moving and marvelous novel.”
—Robert James Russell, author of Mesilla and Sea of Trees
“In Jeff Vande Zande’s new novel, Detroit Muscle, there is a superlative quote about fly fishing: it reads this way:
'If something’s wrong with your forward cast, the problem is in your back cast.'
In this novel about addiction, love, loss, family conflict, reconciliation and
redemption, Vande Zande creates a story of pain and healing that’s both poignant
and tender. The novel’s title – Detroit Muscle – refers to a 1968 Pontiac Firebird,
Vande Zande’s symbol for resilience and fortitude, and the life sagas of those
surrounding it. In sparse prose that is more implicative than declarative,
Vande Zande writes a family’s story that recounts the consequences that one must
face when trying to redeem and repent for addictions and transgressions that are
left unspoken between family members. Vande Zande does not shy away from the pain,
loneliness, and anguish that exist in every addiction. All healing from addiction
and self-estrangement involves an intimate re-engagement with one’s purpose, which
cannot be accessed unless we address how we have fallen off course on the back cast.
In this intimate novel about hope and renewal, past and future become inexplicable
linkages within the trajectory of one’s road trip and casting movement back into
life’s greater purpose. With a keen eye for the way that justice is served through
honesty and the moral ability to pay forward the debts accrued through living with
imperfection, Vande Zande dares to address what is forgivable and what is not within
all family conflicts, including those characterized by addiction, estrangement,
and suicide. The result is a compassionate book that offers a poignant take on how
human beings, through the road trip of reconciliation, recovery, muscle memory and
love, make peace. ”
— Ken Meisel LMSW, author of The Drunken Sweetheart at My Door, Scrap Metal Mantra Poems, and Beautiful Rust”
ISBN 978-0-9829335-5-8 $14 US Includes free shipping!