Kelly scavenges for scrap metal in the hundred thousand abandoned buildings at the heart of Detroit, an area known as “the zone,” where one day he finds something far more valuable than the copper he’s come to steal: a kidnapped boy handcuffed to a bed, crying out for rescue. After being celebrated as a hero, Kelly secretly decides ...
Kelly scavenges for scrap metal in the hundred thousand abandoned buildings at the heart of Detroit, an area known as “the zone,” where one day he finds something far more valuable than the copper he’s come to steal: a kidnapped boy handcuffed to a bed, crying out for rescue. After being celebrated as a hero, Kelly secretly decides to avenge the boy’s unsolved kidnapping. This task will take him deeper into the zone, and into a confrontation with his own past, unearthing long-buried cycles of trauma and cruelty, memories made as dangerous as the evils that he pursues.
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“A fearless and harrowing meditation on the ruination and transformation of cities and of people; but amid loss and destruction, Bell finds a strain of piercing hope. This is an extraordinary book.”
—Emily St. John Mandel, New York Times bestselling author of Station Eleven
“Like the very best novels, Matt Bell's dark and suspenseful Scrapper works on so many levels that it's difficult to describe in just a few words, but what I can tell you is that it's ultimately about love and death, and that people will still be reading it when all of America, not just Detroit, is crumbling under the weight of its mistakes. ”
—Donald Ray Pollock, author of The Devil All the Time
“Scrapper is an offering to the grim phoenix rising out of the ashes of Industrial America – elegy, eulogy, and prophesy. Readers: listen and attend!”
–Aaron Gwyn, author of Wynne's War and Dog on the Cross
“Matt Bell adds his song to the poetry inherent in the image of the abandoned city. Here, in his fierce second novel, Scrapper, Bell mines Detroit, the zone, with Kelly, an unforgettably rendered ruin, an “unaccomodated man ... a poor, bare, forked animal,” who yet amazes with his capacity to love. ”
—Christine Schutt, author of Prosperous Friends
“In the imaginative, mysterious, and beautiful Scrapper, Matt Bell delves into the complexity of ruins: the wider American ruins and the local personal ruins. This is an evocative novel that lingers over what has been abandoned and shows us how the places we inhabit shape who we are and how we are. ”
—Dana Spiotta, author of Stone Arabia
“Scrapper is a meditative, moody work of art. It's about love and violence, hope and ruin, a kind of super hero story for adults. Matt Bell is truly gifted and his latest offers more proof that he's a writer we should all be reading. ”
–Victor LaValle, author of The Devil in Silver
“Scrapper is rooted in the tragic reality of a once-great city’s collapse, but Bell seems to be revisiting some of [In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods's] fundamental concerns: obligations to loved ones, redemption from past misdeeds ... Bell’s portrait of a city brought to its knees is riveting.”
“Matt Bell’s second novel delves into a much more realistic vein than [In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods] while still retaining Bell’s expert dissection of his preferred themes. It follows a troubled man salvaging scrap metal from abandoned homes in contemporary Detroit. When he saves a child’s life, the event sets him on a troubling path, and awakens a set of unsettling memories.”
“Matt Bell describes his new novel, Scrapper, as a “quiet book” — but it comes across with the noisy fury of righteous revenge... The author could’ve easily settled for a straightforward novel about the hard and dangerous life of a scrapper, but the novel takes a decidedly darker turn ... At its core, the book is a love story intertwined with a morality tale and a reflection on how we find redemption through confronting evil.”
“A book of what to do with ruin and of how we attempt to salvage or redeem ... Scrapper eventually shows Kelly to be a deeply wounded man, so much so that he nearly carries two halves inside him: the “scrapper” and the “salvor.” The former wants to rip the houses apart and let Detroit (and himself) burn; the latter wants to find and treasure whatever may yet be worth saving — in himself, in Detroit, in anyone.”
“I’ve been reading and admiring Matt Bell‘s constantly shifting, deeply visceral fiction for years now ... Scrapper, retains [the] sense of grit and emotional tension [of In The House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods], but does so in a much more realistic setting: specifically, contemporary Detroit.”
“Scrapper explores the apocalypse of the everyday, the world-ending moments that happen in silence and how against all odds we try to survive them and be better.”