Crossing California

Despite the intense wordiness, I got swept away by the story of these Chicagoans in the late 70s/early 80s. Langer has a great feel for characters, convincingly writing (among others!) the perspective of a conniving, overachieving 12 year old Jewish girl then seamlessly switching to the perspective of her 40ish old mother who is counting the days to ending her marriage so she can fly off to Paris and live in solitude. Add Larry, the 18 year old brother, into the mix (whose band Rovner! is a mix of puns & Jewish rock, and huge reminder of Portnoy’s Complaint character). And Michael, the dad, who pathetically hits on his best friend’s mistress and who *might* be gay. Stretching beyond the Rovner clan, Langer tackles the Wasserstroms (Jill, 12 and hellbent on losing political causes; Michelle, 17 and sampling drugs, booze, acting, singing, but smart enough to ace her SATs and withstand the overtures of male teachers; Charlie, the dad who loses his job at the restaurant but ends up marrying the woman whose review got him fired). In addition to those 2 families, there’s also the Silverman/Wills (Muley, the audio producer turned film director, who created the character of Peachie Moskowitz in order to win a role on a kids radio show; Deirdre, his mom who reads every book in the local library’s literature section and refuses money from Muley’s showbiz dad; Carl who woos Deirdre after stealing her dad’s music and earning buckets of cash from the rights).
So many characters, marauding plot lines, intriguing stories.
Includes glossary, for those of you who need Bob Dylan, cockblocking, “hava nagilah”, and honkey defined.
***
Great recommendation from Fishman


auth=Langer, Adam
pub=2004
isbn=1573222747