by John Jeffire
ABOUT THE BOOK
Detroit, late July of 1967, and the city boils over. For Aram Pehlivanian, aka Motown, the Grande Ballroom and the music of the MC5 and Iggy Pop and The Temptations no longer provide a haven as destruction engulfs his city. However, escaping death in the streets during the 1967 Detroit Riots only leads him to the jungles of Vietnam and away from Katie, the girl who might be his salvation. Beaten on the streets of Detroit, hunted in the jungles of Vietnam, and fueled to survive by the music of the Motor City, Aram burns with one goal...to see Katie again.
Compiled by Wayne Pricer, Schoolcraft College Librarian
1. The Official Website of John Jeffire
3. The Detroiter, Motown Burning Review
4. BBC Motor City's Burning: Detroit from Motown to the Stooges 1967
Detroit Riots, 1967
1. PBS, American Experience: Riots in Detroit: July 1967
2. Michigan Radio, Ashes to Hope: Overcoming the Detroit Riots
3. Detroit News Photo Gallery, July 1967: Detroit erupts
4. Rutgers University, Detroit Riots-1967
5. Wayne State University, Reuther Archives, Detroit Riot of 1967
6. Lyndon Baines Johnson Library & Museum: Final Report of Cyrus R. Vance, Special Assistant
1. Wikipedia, Winter Soldier Investigation
2. University of Virginia, Winter Soldier Investigation, Testimony
3. University of Virginia, The Sixties Project
4. PBS, American Experience, Vietnam Online
5. Wayne State University, Virtual Motor City
6. American Public Radio Works, Revisiting Vietnam: April 2000
7. Texas Tech University, Vietnam Center & Archive
8. Vassar College, The Wars for Viet Nam: 1945 to 1975
1. This novel provides 24 points to view. It is as if the author with each chapter plants a microchip camera in the reader’s brain. The “camera eye” in each chapter projects the character’s observations and thoughts on the reader’s brain. What do you, the reader, cut and add to each point to view? What does your “camera eye” cut and add to the whole Motown Burning panorama?
2. Some characters in Motown Burning use generously profanity. Others never or rarely do. Why? Differences in: Maturity? Ethics? Class?
3. Qua Tang and her brother Vu are described as “trapped between two mountains” (46). They seek to protect their family from the opposing forces of the Americans and the North Vietnamese. View how “trapped between two mountains” may describe the dilemmas of other characters such as Motown and Mrs. Schmidt.
4. It can be argued that the two main characters are: the Detroit Riot of 1967 and the Vietnam War. What is the story of each main character? How are the two characters interconnected? See Judge Donaldson and Brother Numair’s points to view (152-154, 128-132). Add the ingredient of MC5.
5. Dicky Phelps (92) and Motown, A.P. (225), agree that Katie is perfect: “Little Miss Perfect” and “This perfect girl.” Clarify the divergent interpretations of Katie’s perfection. Mix in this clarification process Mary Jo’s comment, “My sweet cousin Katie from Never-Neverland” (163).
6. Mrs. Schmidt sees Motown as “this problem” (208). Judge Donaldson calls him “this living piece of societal feces” (153). Motown cries, “i couldnt handle being somebody’s problem” (231-232). Click on three of the 24 camera eyes and discern the different interpretations of “the problem.”
7. Motown wants to keep himself sexually clean in Vietnam so that he has a reason to come home to Katie (31). Vu is fighting for his family and for his sister’s purity. Mr. and Mrs. Schmidt are fighting for their daughter Kate’s purity. Discern the similarities and differences in these struggles for purity.
8. Katie: “Just as I reached him, to touch him, to hold him, to take him in my arms and hug him as tight as I could, he just collapsed forward, bending at the waist, his face disappearing in his hands” (262). Click on your eye camera and create your point to view as to what happens next.