Here’s a book that has almost nothing to do with religion, but I recommend for everyone: City Limit:
My attention was directed toward this work when I first learned that it is set in my old south Dallas area of Oak Cliff, right around the places where I grew up. It was a magical place and everyone who lived there loved it. We had creeks and hills and woods to play in. That's what got my attention, what makes me a fan of the work is an even more stunning surprise, the author is a great writer, the work has superior literary merit.
While it is a novel, it rings as true in a sense as any work of nonfiction out there.
This work is about the disturbing core of our society. Many of us assume our culture in the West, in America, is the best thing humans can manage, and I admit it has plenty of fine qualities that I wouldn’t exchange for anything. But then we get shocked time after time when yet another mass murder or other atrocity creeps up among us, yet then we proceed to forget about it until the next one and again we wonder, “How can it happen here?”
By an inhabitant of inner-city America, this work can either really piss you off or, if you let it, bring you face to face with our present reality. At any rate, you cannot deny that, in its hideous world, it still has a heart.
It concerns a boy at the unsightly core of the society that we steadily neglect in our daily lives, that we refuse to acknowledge. He hates the violence that surrounds him, the very guns that he repairs and sells just to stay alive, the drugs and insanity, but he has no choice but to bear through it, in some vague, unrealized hope that it is not necessary for human existence, even though he knows nothing else.
I can only say that I, and probably many of you, may have felt that we have to bear through the onerous facts of our society, maybe less extremely than this boy does, but it constitutes some kind of oozy element we have to bear with to get to a better state. This is only my interpretation of the book—but even if you feel differently about our world, you should at least be moved by this frank, unsentimental, but emotionally deep journey through our inner urban depths.
This is a powerful first novel, from Lantzey Miller, which I cannot too-highly recommend. It is also worth a session of your book-reading group, one that can fire up plenty lively discussion.
For further information, including excerpts, here are a couple of blubs from the publisher:
Miller is a terrifically talented new writer and City Limit is his harrowing debut. Lives at risk to the forces of crime and poverty are given their due, particularly one memorable teenage boy. This novel was hard to put down and impossible to forget.
Victor LaValle, author of The Devil in Silver (Publishers Weekly Best Book 2012)
A dark, gleaming jewel of a novel with dramatic echoes of Beckett and Dickens, about the harrowing life of a fourteen-year-old, virtually homeless boy growing up at the extreme edge of poverty and emotional deprivation. With the drug and illegal gun-sale world of South Dallas as a sharply delineated backdrop, this beautifully written first novel powerfully and unsentimentally describes, in crystalline prose, the costs of a no-childhood childhood.
Lis Harris, Columbia University, former New Yorker staff writer, author of Holy Days and Rules of Engagement