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Lake Effect

3.43 of 5 stars 3.43  ·  rating details  ·  152 ratings  ·  25 reviews
A New York Times Notable Book

Winner of the Great Lakes Book Award and the 21st Century Award from the Chicago Public Library

Raised in an affluent suburb on the North Shore of Chicago, Rich Cohen had a cluster of interesting friends, but none more interesting than Jamie Drew. Fatherless, reckless, and lower middle class in a place that wasn’t, Jamie possessed such an irresi
Paperback, 224 pages
Published April 8th 2003 by Vintage (first published April 8th 2002)
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(showing 1-30 of 247)
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The book recounts the author’s years growing up in the 1980s in Glencoe, a Chicago suburb, and subsequently his student years in New Orleans, but really centres on his best friend Jamie. It is evocative of the period and full of memorable imagery. Jamie is an extraordinary and delightful character, and the remarkable platonic friendship he and the author Rich enjoy is beautifully recounted. This is a book which repays careful reading, not one to be hurried. It reveals much insight, and while the ...more
I guess I know Rich Cohen in a roundabout way, since I worked with New Trier students in the 1980s. The picture of his friends on the cover includes a friend of his, (ironically named Jamie) though not the kid Jamie Drew is based on. (I have a suspicion he is who Tom Pistone is based on.) I have been working with North Shore teenagers for 40 years, and the book forced me to remember some of the 50 or so special kids who touched me, not just for their unusually intense angst, the unusual lack of ...more
I have to admit that I'm a bit biased when it comes to boys' coming of age stories. Stand By Me is one of my favorite movies, and I just really like that genre. This is the first memoir I've ever read, so I can't really compare it to anything else. However, let me say that I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

Basically this dude (Rich Cohen) talks about his senior year of high school through his late 20s. The heaviest focus is the senior year, and first year of college, and most all of it focuses on h
Nice story of growing up on the North Shore of Chicago suburbs. But Cohen never fills out Jamie enough to make me understand why he is so admired. He often talks about the "great things" Jamie has done, but never describes them. When he does it comes off as nothing more than sophomoric, drunk/drugged hijinks. When he does give us some of Jamie's talk it comes of as simple stoner BS. And I have a real problem w/ white suburban kids so in love w/ Chicago blues, pontificating on how this is the "re ...more
Nov 15, 2007 ba rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: 30-40-ish people from Chicago's North Shore
Imagine you grew up in Glencoe, and you tried to write a Keruac novel in the style of Ray Bradbury's Dandelion Wine. Upon finishing your manuscript, you soaked it in a rusty bucket of piss and jitterbug perfume in the backyard for a few days. Then you let it dry in the sun, until the piss-smell is only evident within inches of the paper...

Ok, it's not all that bad. I read it all the way through, and enjoyed it for the most part. I found the style tiresome, but you may not. All the dialog is repo
Michelle BF
I was excited to read this regional great lakes set memoir for book club but it didn't hook me. There were good moments on the lake and some good writing and easy reading but this writer and I had totally different lives and made very different decisions in life (drugs being one, sex another). It was hard for me to relate to him and I was a little excited because we both grew up in the same time frame. Maybe it's the guy thing. I thought I was getting over that--I-can-only-read-girls-because-I-d ...more
This is a good book, especially if you have grown up on the North Shore of Lake Michigan (north of the city of Chicago), which I have. You know what Mr. Cohen is talking about and you know the places he describes. It hits home because of the way the "North Shore" was and still is. It's worth the read for anyone with difficulties growing up and those who are from this area.
Brandon Will
Charts the course of one of those life-changing friendships. The kind that form and shape both involved, even when the friendship becomes little more than a reminder of what it used to be, and a guage to how far life as moved as the horizons of adolescent possibility have narrowed into the present day what is.
God, this book is gorgeous. I didn't know if I'd like it, since it is billed as being about friendships between boys, and that is not false billing, but the writing is great, and that tone a perfect mix of nostalgia and something else. Maybe pride? Maybe love?
At some point in their lives, everyone meets someone cut from that blueprint Cohen fleshs out here in Jamie Drew. Lake Effect captures, in his own words, "what happens to such friendships when the afternoon runs into evening." A simple and beautiful memoir.
Descriptions of moments and places that made me feel I was in these places never visited, moments never experienced. Hit home on a number of levels having grown up in the 80's. Explores the quiet growth and accompanying pain of male friendships.
A great read about growing up in Glencoe, a wealthy suburb north of Chicago, in the 80s, and the author's friendship with another young man not born into the same world of privilege as himself.
Not much going for this dull autobiography. Only kept my interest because he is talking about the area where I live, so the name dropping kept it tolerable.
Jewish man Rich grows up in Chicago suburbs. Jamie is his friend even though he is much lower class. Are friends throughout life.
Karen Backe
Because I grew up in the same h.s. district at the same time as the author I mostly enjoyed this read for its yearbook aspect.
This is the memoir of a young Chicago man reflecting on his high school / early college days and one particular friendship
This one time this guy tried to write On The Road but about high school kids and it was boring. But well-written. So, okay.
Memoir of growing up on the North Shore of Lake Michigan, just north of Chicago. Self absorbed, but well written.
could relate to this book somewhat,about the same age although different place, and country.
read half way and got tired of him being impressed by himself - first 20 pages were entertaining...
Holly Patton
beautiful adolescent to adult story...very intimate peek into a guys head and heart.
Sarah Mae
bought this book at The 99 Cent Store because it has advance praise from Liz Phair
Mar 21, 2008 Toby rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Toby by: Steve Cohen (author's brother)
Great for anyone who grew up on the north shore of Chicago.
James Spada
a wonderful gift from my friend Adam.
the story of my childhood.
Lauren added it
Mar 29, 2015
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RICH COHEN is the author of Sweet and Low (FSG, 2006), Tough Jews, The Avengers, The Record Men, and the memoir Lake Effect. His work has appeared in many major publications, and he is a contributing editor at Rolling Stone. He lives with his family in Connecticut.

For more information, please see
More about Rich Cohen...
The Fish That Ate the Whale: The Life and Times of America's Banana King Sweet and Low: A Family Story Monsters: The 1985 Chicago Bears and the Wild Heart of Football Tough Jews: Fathers, Sons, and Gangster Dreams The Avengers: A Jewish War Story

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