The urban grit, filth and despair of a city that has come apart at the seams, making it ‘the number-one Death-of-America pilgrimage destination’. Detroit, a city filled with places that are a shadow of what they used to be, a ‘sprawling waste of it. Broken bricks and concrete pillars holding up the sky’ with everything ‘choked with weeds and graffiti.’ The many, many abandoned homes and factories have now become transient spaces, neither living nor dead but just silently waiting in limbo—blighted and lonely.
In Lauren Beukes’ new novel, Broken Monsters, these places are doorways, thresholds between planes; even chalk-drawn outlines of doors on walls are slick membranes between realities and dreams. Amongst the decrepitude of Detroit there remains a desire, a dream trying to break through to the surface though ‘it feels suffocated by the rigidity of the world. And yet…there is evidence of the dreaming everywhere. There is a world beneath the world that is rich and tangled with meaning.’ It is this world that failed sculptor Clayton Boom is trying to bring to life with horrific taxidermy, clay, and murder most foul.