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 seventies, The (Jewish) Corrections, a Chicagoan Manhattan, or early Philip Roth for a later generation, Crossing California is an unforgettable, and thoroughly enjoyable, contribution to contemporary fiction.
...closing the book...is the worst part of this engrossing debut novel.
...Langer drills to the core of people...as deeply as Jonathan Franzen did in The Corrections.... [4 stars]
...the most vivid novel about Chicago since Saul Bellow's Herzog and the most ambitious debut...since Philip Roth's Letting Go.
The New York Times - Mark Kamine
… [Langer's] ambitious first novel, Crossing California, hits high points of comic empathy.
His steely humanism balances the corruptions of ego against an appreciation of the energies of its schemes, putting him firmly in the tradition of such Chicago writers as Bellow and Dybek.
Two years, 1979-81, in the lives of two Chicago families-but so much more....Of epic scope, yet intimate in its accomplishments.
Booklist - Donna Seaman
Although Langer may have aimed for Philip Roth and landed, instead, beside David Sedaris, his novel is smart, affectionate, and uproariously entertaining.
Gary Shteyngart, author of The Russian Debutante's Handbook
A work of unusual mastery, compassion, insight and wit.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Stacy M
I really LOVED this book. It was not a quick read, but i was so happy for its length. I felt like i was there in chicago. Incredible vivid descriptions and charachter development. Read this book!
Rated of 5
I am one of those people who vastly prefers character development to plot, and if you are like me, I'm certain you will find "Crossing California" to be an outstanding book. The members of three families struggle to find their way in... Read More
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