iOS app Android app

Toby Barlow
Toby Barlow is a writer who lives in downtown Detroit. His critically acclaimed novel "Sharp Teeth" is currently available from Random House in the U.K., HarperCollins in the U.S., and a few other countries whose languages he doesn't understand.

Entries by Toby Barlow

What Is Write a House Worth?

(2) Comments | Posted May 26, 2016 | 7:50 PM

A few years ago, we started a non-profit called Write-A-House. It made quite a splash at the time. The idea of fixing up Detroit wrecks and giving the refurbished home away to writers really impressed journalists (tip: if you want to get good press, do something nice for writers) and...

Read Post

Why I'm Walking With Friends

(2) Comments | Posted April 22, 2015 | 10:10 AM

Amid all the excitement about the city's renaissance, there are tensions simmering too. There is a lot of conversation and debate about the "new" Detroit and the "old" Detroit.

I've been involved in a lot of these "new" things, and people love talking about them. But one older institution I've...

Read Post

A 50 Percent Increase in Parking Fines? Crazy Detroit

(0) Comments | Posted April 17, 2014 | 1:23 PM

In the seven years I have lived in and grown to love Detroit, I have learned a lot of things. For instance: Even in a broken city like ours, you gotta feed the meters.

During last winter's bleakest polar vortexes (aka the day before yesterday), I was impressed with...

Read Post

Lou Gave Me A Lot

(2) Comments | Posted October 31, 2013 | 7:37 AM

"This Halloween is something to be sure, especially to be here without you"

It's four in the morning and I'm up with a jet lag, just back from Berlin. I was standing there a few days ago, by the remnants of the wall, when my phone started...

Read Post

Open Co. Gives You A Chance To Get Really, Really Inside Detroit

(0) Comments | Posted August 27, 2013 | 11:38 AM

In 1822, up on Mackinaw Island, a young trapper named Alexis St Martin found himself on the wrong end of a shotgun blast, fired at close range, that left a hole in his gut. And somehow he survived.

But St. Martin's injury did not heal all the...

Read Post

6 People Who Should Be Freaking Out About the Post Office's Stupid Cuts

(136) Comments | Posted February 6, 2013 | 4:38 PM

If you want to know the byzantine story of how the Federal Government took a profitable institution called the U.S. Post Office and made it look like a cross-eyed loser, the story has been well told here. (Believe it or not, the trouble began when the government discovered the...

Read Post

The Upside Down Solstice

(2) Comments | Posted December 21, 2012 | 4:55 PM

Today there are flurries being blown about in the wind as the temperature, for one of the few days this month, has dipped into the 20s. I think of the man I heard talking to the waitress at the diner a few weeks ago. "I want a blizzard!" he said,...

Read Post

Parking in Detroit Is Fascinating

(10) Comments | Posted April 30, 2012 | 2:31 PM

I love this town, but there are times when I think Detroit must be crazy or clinically short sighted or simply cursed (damn you, Nain Rouge!)

Less than a year ago, they extended the hours of downtown parking enforcement till 10 pm. It was a really interesting...

Read Post

It's Morning Again at Half Time in Detroit (VIDEO)

(5) Comments | Posted February 7, 2012 | 10:44 AM

The first person I worked for was Hal Riney, the man who, over whiskeys at the Washbag, wrote the famous "It's Morning Again in America" for Ronald Reagan. Hal wrote those ads at a unique time in America's history and the work framed Reagan as a leader who had successfully...

Read Post

"Detroit," Meet Detroit

(232) Comments | Posted November 16, 2011 | 11:00 PM

You may know this already, but the one thing I've learned since I moved here is that many, if not most, of the people who identify themselves as being from "Detroit" have really no idea what Detroit is like. That's because they really live in, say, Novi, Warren, even neighboring...

Read Post

Watch "Spoiled" Firefighters at Work (VIDEO)

(0) Comments | Posted March 8, 2011 | 9:01 AM

I've heard a lot about public employees in the past few weeks, lots of rhetoric about how their salaries, pensions and health care are too excessive. While I agree that in times of sacrifice we all need to compromise, I also wonder if the people attacking the public sector really...

Read Post

To the Employees At The Borders' Stores Scheduled To Close: Open A Bookstore

(16) Comments | Posted February 16, 2011 | 5:09 PM

Just because headquarters can't figure out how to make your location viable does not mean you can't. You've got loyal customers, you know the shelves. You've been sitting behind the cash register for years now saying, "If it was up to me..." So, do it! Organize, approach Borders and say,...

Read Post

The Tea Party's Worst Nightmare: Ike

(27) Comments | Posted September 6, 2010 | 10:45 AM

We know what Glenn and Sarah hate. We know what all the Tea Party candidates hate. They hate taxes. They hate Big Government. They want to see our great nation once again standing on top of the world. You know, like it was in the 1950s, when the magnificent United...

Read Post

Let's Call It "Climate Chaos"

(4) Comments | Posted August 3, 2010 | 1:51 PM

It is hard to tell which is more intolerable, the current blistering, muggy weather or the current news about the weather, specifically the way the news media is underplaying the incredible drama that is now unfolding all around us.

Yes, there are articles and news flashes about record heat,...

Read Post

The NBA's Dirty Partner

(45) Comments | Posted April 11, 2010 | 2:12 PM

The NBA's tagline is "Amazing things happen." Right now the most amazing thing happening is that David Stern and the rest of the NBA are acting like their angel investor Mikhail Prokhorov is some sort of a noble gentleman with a spotless reputation.

It's easy to sympathize with the NBA....

Read Post

Save Your Town From the Robot Armies

(7) Comments | Posted March 23, 2010 | 6:01 PM

A friend who owns an independent bookstore was recently telling me about a disturbing trend where people go into her store, browse titles, read a few pages, and then go order it from Amazon, all to save whatever you save by shopping on line.

I told her that I...

Read Post

Let's Talk AC/DC (the Currents, Not the Band)

(3) Comments | Posted March 22, 2010 | 12:59 PM

It is sunny right now in Los Angeles. Which, of course, makes geeky guys like me think about solar energy. It's also something the state and the local government are thinking a lot about lately, weighing increases in California utility rates to subsidize solar panels on residential homes. Great idea....

Read Post

How a Billionaire Can Make a Billion Dollars

(29) Comments | Posted December 27, 2009 | 9:30 AM

I didn't think I should have to write this. They should be smart enough to figure it out themselves, these infamous titans of industry. But then I saw how Bernie Madoff fleeced the lot of them and I thought, maybe these aren't the sharpest tools in the shed, even if...

Read Post

The Power of Protest

(20) Comments | Posted September 12, 2009 | 10:33 PM

My heart sank when I saw the thousands out protesting health care reform in the Washington today. While I would love the idea of us joining the rest of the civilized world with a policy of universal health care, I now know this is just a dream. Thanks to that...

Read Post

"Deathers" Expose Canada's Health Care Secret

(8) Comments | Posted August 3, 2009 | 4:46 PM

When Obama and the Democrats try to explain how America's health care crisis can be fixed, they often point to our neighbors to the north.

"Canada provides health care to all its citizens, we can too," say the optimists.

Sounds good until you consider this scary fact: at some point...

Read Post