CROSSING CALIFORNIA by Adam Langer
Publisher Riverhead/Putnam, June 2004
In 1979, California Avenue, in Chicago’s West Rogers Park neighborhood, separates the upper middle-class Jewish families from the mostly middle-class Jewish residents on the east of the divide. This by turns funny and heartbreaking first novel tells the story of three families and their teenage children living on either side of California, following their loves, heartaches, and friendships during a memorable moment of American history. Langer’s captivating portraits, his uncanny and extraordinarily vivid recreation of a not-so-past time and place, and his pitch-perfect dialogue all make CROSSING CALIFORNIA certain to evoke memories and longing in its readers-as well as laughter and anxiety. Whether viewed as an American Graffiti for the ‘70s, The (Jewish) Corrections, a Chicagoan Manhattan, or early Philip Roth for a new generation, CROSSING CALIFORNIA is an unforgettable, and thoroughly enjoyable, contribution to contemporary fiction.
"A work of unusual mastery, compassion, insight and wit. What is
exciting about CROSSING CALIFORNIA is not merely the scope of Adam
Langer's literary ambitions, but the generous ways in which he fulfills
"Crossing California is so rich in the vitality of life that it
includes a glossary of terms, which is itself far more interesting and
evocative than are many other novels entirely. I suggest you cross
whatever streets and avenues are necessary to get to a bookstore and pick
up your copy of Crossing California."
Chicago's California Avenue is where wit and ingenuity meet the heart
and soulfulness of Jewish American fiction in this wonderfully confident
novel. Rooted in its artfully developed characters as well as California
Avenue, a real street in Chicago's West Rogers Park neighborhood, Crossing
California captures its intimate feel, then cleverly sets that intimacy in
the context of world events."
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