Lisa Lenzo's stories explore what happens when safe boundaries are crossed. Often impetuous or unintentional, these crossings-over are never taken with full knowledge—characters step or glide or slip into trouble, and occasionally they hold still as danger overtakes them. The result is the loss of lives, limbs, or simply the illusion of safety. Yet despite their trials, the characters in these stories come away with a sense of hope for what remains.
All of the characters in Within the Lighted City are Detroiters or former Detroiters, including a near-albino teenager, an angel, and the Zito family—Ralph and Rosie and their children, who first appear in the collection during the '67 riots. Their stories of confrontation, loss, love, humor, and joy are, in the words of Stuart Dybek, “unsentimental in their honesty and at the same time powerfully empathetic.” They are also beautifully told.