Detroit Muscle, a novel by Jeff Vande Zande

Out of the Trenches: Fighting for Sobriety
May 25, 2016
Living Harmoniously in the Real World
May 30, 2016

Detroit Muscle, a novel by Jeff Vande Zande

Hi guys, Jeff Vande Zande approached me last week about sharing his new novel, Detroit Muscle, on my blog.  I wanted to share an excerpt with you, as we all know how horrific and pervasive the opiate epidemic is and anything I can do to shed awareness on this gut wrenching addiction, I’m happy to do so.


An Oxycodone addict just out of rehab, Robby Cooper has debts to pay and a pregnant ex-girlfriend. As Robby struggles to jump-start his life on the crumbling streets of Detroit and its suburbs, his grandfather Otto invites him on a fly fishing road trip to northern Michigan. Driving his grandfather’s ’68 Firebird, Robby begins to understand how his family’s dysfunction spans generations…..

Boook Excerpt:

The therapist writes. “Where were you living during all of this? I mean, after your back injury?”

“My mom’s.”

“Were you working?”


“Do you think she had any idea that you had a problem?”

Robby laces his fingers, stretches his hands above his head, and cracks his knuckles. He speaks through his moan. “She just thought that I had a motivation problem. She was pretty cool about me staying there. I told her that my plan was to go to O.C.C. in the fall, and she said that as long as that was my plan I could stay there for free.”

“That’s Oakland Community College, right?”


The therapist makes note of it. “Was that your plan?”

He scratches his wrist. “My plan was to stay high as often as I could.”

The therapist cups his left hand over his right fist and rests both against his lips. He talks into them. “So, when you were selling all of your things, you told her that you were putting money away for college.”


He nods, picking up his pencil and pad again from his lap. He flips it to a fresh page. “How did you end up working for Ty?”

Robby sighs. “A guy I knew from high school was working for him. He said that Ty was looking for guys, so I went and talked to him. Why is any of this—”

“This was in…?”


He writes and then looks up. “Did you tell your mom that you were saving the money from work for school?”


He clears his throat. “How did you feel about lying to her?”

“I wasn’t really feeling much of anything.”

“How do you feel about it now?”

Robby smirks at him. “Shitty. What do you think?”

“Did you end up going to O.C.C.?”


“Because of money?”

“I just didn’t.”

“And your mother didn’t have an issue—”

“She was just happy that I was still working for Ty… that I was sticking with something. I told her that I’d go to school in the winter. Ty only does exterior stuff, so I’d be more freed up in the winter. Look, this is—”

“But then you stole his equipment.”

Robby digs his nails into the arm of the chair. “You know all this crap. Why do we have to keep talking about it?”

“It makes you feel bad?”

“No shit.”

The therapist motions his pencil eraser at him. “I know this seems pointless, but it’s important for you to be in touch with these emotions. I want you to remember how you feel right now… for when you have a craving.”

Robby looks into his lap. “I don’t need any help to feel shitty about myself. I’ve got that covered.”

“Just remember that it can be a useful emotion.”

Feel free to go here and purchase a copy of the novel, Detroit Muscle:

About the Author:  Jeff Vande Zande teaches fiction writing and screenwriting at Delta College. His books of fiction include Emergency Stopping and Other StoriesInto the Desperate CountryLandscape with Fragmented Figures and Threatened Species and Other Stories (Whistling Shade Press). His novel American Poet won the Stuart and Vernice Gross Award for Excellence in Writing by a Michigan Author and a Michigan Notable Book Award from the Library of Michigan. He maintains a website at


  1. Cool! I’m from the area, too…in fact, I attended O.C.C. myself. Heroin is epidemic to my small hometown, and I have watched quite a few of my former classmates fade away. It’s a sad, sad time.

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