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Review Excerpts

Los Angeles Times – September 7, 2005
“Rounded and convincing character[s]… The swarm of period detail is one thing at which Langer excels… The Washington Story presents itself as a document preserving the memory of a specific time and place, but it's really an acute and sympathetic account of what it's like to be young -- anytime, anywhere.”
-- Michael Harris

The Miami Herald – August 28, 2005
The Washington Story, Adam Langer’s delightful sequel to Crossing California, is… a remarkably vivid and descriptive portrait of Chicago in the 1980s... As seen through the eyes of Langer’s sprawling, multiracial cast, Chicago – specifically the conservative Jewish neighborhood of West Rogers Park – evolves as its intricately crafted, fascinating residents try to adjust to the inevitable change… Langer’s humor is as sharp as ever, and he imbues these gropings for identity with wit and a playful sense of fun. The Washington Story may be set in Chicago, but in the end it’s universally appealing, an insightful vision of our comical, sad, infuriating, wonderful lives.”
-- Connie Ogle

Chicago Tribune – August 28, 2005
“Langer has produced a tender and generous book… Those readers who cherish the characters from Langer's first book will surely enjoy following their continuing misadventures here, for both novels are thinking people's soap operas. Yet "The Washington Story" does not exclude readers new to this novelist's work. A careful craftsman, Langer has woven in enough back story for the sequel to stand on its own merits… Unearthing the artifacts of Jill, Muley and the rest was an effort well worth Adam Langer's abundant talent.”
-- Samuel G. Freedman,

The New York Sun – August 24, 2005
“Adam Langer's overtly nostalgic novels do the work of Balzac and VH1 in a single blow. Together his two books [Crossing California and Washington Story] make an epic. Much of their aesthetic effect is composite, the creation of a taxonomy of growing-up… It is a credit to the author that this lattice of relationships, floating above its colorful social backdrop, is aesthetically convincing. More significantly, it suggests that, after decades of youth culture, the bildungsroman is increasingly stylish.”
-- Benjamin Lytal

Baltimore Sun – August 14, 2005
“Set during the Reagan era in the snug Chicago neighborhood of West Rogers Park, Langer's second novel… follows the same group of lively teenagers as they support Harold Washington's mayoral campaign, record the trajectory of Halley's Comet, fall in love, apply to college, and cope with their complicated families… Dense with Chicago lore and 1980s pop-culture references, Langer's plot occasionally gets lost in its own details, but his genuine affection for his characters is irresistible.”
-- Donna Rifkind

Chicago Sun Times – August 7, 2005
“This sequel to Langer's Crossing California continues the intertwined stories of, among others, Michelle and Jill Wasserstrom, Muley Wills, Larry Rovner, Hillel Levy and their various extended and blended families… The strength of the novel is in the setting. Langer is more journalist than storyteller, more Terkel than Bellow. He is an excellent observer of the city, and he captures this tiny, almost forgotten enclave of the city like a veteran documentary filmmaker.”
-- Stephen J. Lyons

The Foreward – August 5, 2005
“Vividly chronicling a time and place now relegated to the half-remembered past… The Washington Story continues a trajectory mapped by its predecessor, following the lives and travails of a clique of Hebrew school graduates and their friends as they make their way through the stiff Reaganite head winds of the mid-1980s… Langer has a great ear for language… Intimately familiar with the lies and betrayals of growing up, as well as the occasional triumphs, The Washington Story manages to be a book that, page by page, is an impressive feat of social comedy while remaining, overall, an assured drama of impending adulthood.”
-- Saul Austerlitz

Publishers Weekly – July 7, 2005
“Langer's dense, sprawling follow up to Crossing California features the same ambitious clutch of high-schoolers on the cusp of Harold Washington's bid for Chicago mayor in 1982. In the Orthodox Jewish neighborhood of West Rogers Park, junior Jill Wasserstrom works as a cub reporter for the Lane Leader and entertains a crush on irreverent senior editor Wes Sullivan; Jill's usual boyfriend, Muley Wills, is in Cape Canaveral working on the space shuttle Columbia and bedding his seductive lab partner. Jill's sister, Michelle, pops in from New York to snag the lead role in Mel Coleman's film Godfathers of Soul, and embarks on a hot affair with the director, who's black, 20 years her senior and dating Muley's mother… Though overflowing with plot lines and detail, Langer's latest is another fine portrait of an era, a city and its very human inhabitants.”

Kirkus (Starred Review) – June 15, 2005
“You could potentially draw a map of the city after reading this book, not to mention what movies were showing at the time and what music was on the radio… Characters, of course are what matter here most… Although the novel’s scope has widened to include Florida, the East Coast and even Germany, the wind swept streets of Chicago remain at its center. One hopes that a third installation, taking us into the ‘90s is not too far off. Another richly detailed and overstuffed novel, both joyful and heartbreaking.”
 

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