Great Quotes: ‘Geography of the rich and exclusive’

I just need to write down this quote from A Prayer for Owen Meany:

At the time, Owen and I knew a kid from Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, and he told us that Bloomfield Hills was to Detroit what Lake Forest was to Chicago, and that – in his view – Bloomfield Hills “sucked”; he offered a story about Bloomfield Hills as an example of what he meant – it was a story about a black family that moved there, and they were forced to sell and move out because their neighbors kept burning crosses on their lawn. This shocked Owen and me; in New Hampshire, we thought such things happened only in the South – but a black kid from Atlanta informed us that we knew “shit” about the problem; they burned crosses all over the country, the black kid said, and we weren’t exactly “overwhelmed by a sea of black faces at Gravesend Academy, were we? No, Owen and I agreed; we were not.

Then another kid from Michigan said that Grosse Pointe was more to Detroit what Lake Forest was to Chicago – that Bloomfield Hills wasn’t a proper analogy – and some other kid argued that Shaker Heights was more to Cleveland was Lake Forest was to Chicago…

This makes me laugh for several reasons:

1. They’re talking about Lake Forest, a suburb of Chicago (or, not?) because the new headmaster of the exclusive Gravesend Academy in A Prayer for Owen Meany is from Lake Forest. Lake Forest was the REAL hometown of author Dave Eggers, whose childhood I just recently read about in A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.

2. As a resident of Metro Detroit myself, I live very-very-very close to Bloomfield Hills – like, two minutes away. In fact, for the past four years, I lived – and now live just outside – the city of Birmingham, MI, which is where all the wealthy denizens of Bloomfield Hills moved when they decided they were tired of rolling hills and country club-like estates and instead, wanted to live more in a ye olde towne-like setting. No joke.

3. I’ve never been to Lake Forest, but I’m sure that yes, Bloomfield Hills is to Detroit what Lake Forest is to Chicago.


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