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Crossing California

3.7  ·  Rating Details ·  1,843 Ratings  ·  239 Reviews
4. November 1979: In der US-Botschaft in Teheran werden 70 Geiseln genommen. Es ist die Ära Carter, und nicht nur Amerikas Psyche kränkelt, sondern auch die der Rovners, Wasserstroms und Wills, die rund um die California Avenue auf Chicagos North Side leben. Vielfach durch Liebe, Hass, Ehrgeiz und Intrige verbunden, tasten sie sich durch eine Welt, die jenseits voller Kühl ...more
Paperback, 586 pages
Published 2006 by Rowohlt-Taschenbuch-Verl. (first published 2004)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Adam Brunner
Jan 02, 2012 Adam Brunner rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Several months after first reading Crossing California, I discovered a video on author Adam Langer’s website. Narrated by Langer, the video features early 1970’s Super-8 footage of Chicago’s West Rogers Park, the neighborhood in which the novel is set. Unearthed from the basement of his parents’ home, this should have been a gem to me. I was absolutely captivated by this novel, and I admit to being something of an Adam Langer fan-boy. Strangely, my first response to this footage was dejection. T

...more
Lori
Sep 06, 2012 Lori rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: eighties
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way...In short, the seventies were ending.

I was there! And just exactly like the charac
...more
Anastasia
Jun 12, 2011 Anastasia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 0-2012
Riporto a galla di un libro un po' in ombra.

Ben ritrovati, amici e amiche, sono qui per..

Okay, no.

Sono lieta di rincontrarvi nell'occasio..

No.

Hey, bros!

Eh?


POPOLO DI ROMA!
Siamo qui per fare la conoscenza di un autore americano della cerchia ebraica di Roth & co, un loro fratellino minore che ingiustamente riceve sempre le briciole: Adam Langer.
Langer di fatto non è l'ultimo arrivato, tant'è vero che potrebbe essere mio padre. Cresciuto negli anni '70 nella zona di West Rogers Park a Chicago
...more
Rachael Sherwood
Jun 04, 2011 Rachael Sherwood rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
Crossing California is the story of three families living in the West Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago, IL and takes place during the Iran Hostage Crisis. While the country transitions from the Carter years to the beginning of the 1980s and Reaganomics, the three families also find themselves going through major transitions.

I picked up this book simply because I live in Rogers Park and figured even if I didn't care for it, I could still learn a bit about my neighborhood's history and enjoy re
...more
Mary Billinghurst
I started reading Crossing California on a day when I had a lot of time to get into the book. As a result, I found myself transported to the West Rogers Park neighbourhood of Chicago. I felt I knew these characters, as if they were people in my school or community. 200 pages into the novel, I was enthralled.

Then, as I read on, my enthusiasm waned. The story went on too long; many of the characters became tedious in their self absorption, and, in my opinion, the author seemed to be enjoying his o
...more
j
Feb 02, 2010 j rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As far as I'm concerned, this book and its sequel, The Washington Story, are must-reads. Together, they cover around a decade in the lives of a bunch of Jewish kids growing up on Chicago's north side. They are long, dense, and really funny (I don't tend to laugh a lot when reading, but these books did it). I'd read another one tomorrow.
Emily
Aug 28, 2009 Emily rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
adam langer is OBSESSIVELY attentive to detail. the sheer number of pronouns in this book is probably more than in any book i've ever read. he faithfully, resolutely, precisely "reps the hood", not only his hood, but his hood, west rogers park, at a very specific point in time--1979-1981, when being liberal was on its way "out" and reaganism/reaganomics was taking over. my aunts used to live in a bungalow on morse in rogers park, so some places he mentioned were familiar, like fluky's. not only ...more
Lindsay Edwardson
This book is incredible! It takes place in Chicago from 1979-1981. It is the story of a small number of people whose lives are all intertwined in various ways. I thought it was really fun to read because of all of the places that are mentioned that I live around or know about. Also, I think that the characterization is great. The characters all seem very real and honest. I think that any student from the Chicagoland area would appreciate reading this because they would be familiar with the area. ...more
Bookmarks Magazine

Until recently, Langer was known primarily as a playwright and the author of a film festival compendium, but that's about to change. Reviewers have heaped the kind of praise on Crossing California for which most first-time novelists would sacrifice their coffee and nicotine. Critics zeroed in on Langer's biting wit (the youngest Rovner's song, "My Love Ain't Always Orthodox," is a particular fave) and lauded his depiction of youthful disaffection, embodied in characters like Jill, the intellectu

...more
Amy
Jun 21, 2007 Amy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Yet another Chicago-related book. This one covers the early 1980s and the lives of several families in the northern suburbish area called Rogers Park. California is in reference to the street in Chicago, not the state, and how it marks a line between neighborhoods. Chicago is, afterall, a city of neighborhoods and also a city with an obvious divide between races. Growing up in the Southern U.S. I never thought I would encounter such disctinctions between race as I have found in Chicago. This boo ...more
Astrid
Nov 05, 2012 Astrid rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: genre-study
2.5 Portrayal of the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago and its mostly Jewish inhabitants around 1979-1981. Started strong, but there were too many characters to keep track of (and the author seemed obsessed with masturbation, oy!)After a while, I just wanted to get the book finished, the characters became tiresome and the ending was sudden. I turned the page expecting there to be another chapter, but there wasn't. This is the first in what I guess is a trilogy. Too bad, I had high hopes for th ...more
Kristin
Aug 03, 2016 Kristin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
My son plays soccer in West Rogers Park, so I really enjoyed immersing myself in this neighborhood as it was in the 70s. Langer so accurately and comedically captures the psychology of teenagers. I love the way his characters work through their obsession with / confusion about / aversion to sex, the way they often lie to save face in a particularly teenage way, and the ways they develop their Jewish / ethnic / political / artistic identities. Great characters and an expertly interwoven plot. So ...more
Amyruszkiewicz
Feb 15, 2016 Amyruszkiewicz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hands down one of the best novels I have ever read. I first read it in 2005 when I was a grad student at the university of Chicago. I loved this novel for its rendering of a city I had fallen in love with. Ten years later I'm still crazy about its amazing characters brought to life extremely tenderly. A masterpiece.
Elisa
Feb 10, 2015 Elisa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Tutti i personaggi di questo libro sono tratteggiati in modo delizioso. Una lettura piacevolissima.
Stephanie
Aug 23, 2015 Stephanie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Smart, quirky, and laugh-out-loud funny. Loved it!
Chris
Oct 31, 2009 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wendy-books
As the title suggests, there’s a lot of movement in “Crossing California.” Movement across social and cultural lines (the stretch of California Avenue in the West Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago is seen as a dividing line between the well-to-do and the not-quite-there), movement from childhood to adolescence, movement out of marriage, movement past grief, and movement into a new era (end of the ‘70s/start of the ‘80s; Carter into Reagan). Everybody’s moving, but most would rather stay put.

T
...more
Robin Friedman
"Crossing California" is a long, sprawling first novel set in Rogers Park, a mostly Jewish area of Chicago, in 1979-1980 against the background of the Iranian hostage crisis and the election of Ronald Reagan to the presidency. It is gratuitously anti-Reagan in tone. The book received substantial attention upon its publication in 2004 together with mostly favorable, but mixed critical reviews. The book tells the story of adolescence and of troubled families during this time and place. Although th ...more
Andrea
Mar 09, 2013 Andrea rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Some great scenes and X-rays of the west Rogers Park neighborhood in NE Chicago, circa 1979-1980; author Langer offers up this microcosm with the most meticulous attention to detail and authenticity. Every imaginable musical, religious, cultural, political, and linguistic reference related to that time and place is used, accurately, in this novel about growing up (smart and/or smartass teens) and growing older (their parents, still kicking but facing midlife with uncertainty). He manages to catc ...more
Susan
Sep 04, 2007 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the weirdest confluence of events (is that right? eh, don't tell me if it's not; I like the way it sounds), our July bookgroup choice was Crossing California. We received it on Thursday the 14th, a mere three days before I had tickets to go see Katie in an adaptation of the selfsame book! I started the book, saw the play, then finished the book. It was nice to have a sense of character going into the play, although it was a little difficult to get them back to how I originally pictured them w ...more
Robert Palmer
Feb 18, 2017 Robert Palmer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This story is set in Chicago ,1979-1980,not California the state,rather California av. on the far north side of Chicago,which is a city of many neighborhoods and California av. is the dividing line between east and west Rogers park, west West Rogers park: the more prosperous, East Rogers park: the working class,the novel has a large cast of characters,both adults and teenagers and each of the main characters have their own personal agendas,there is much,oh so much,subtle humor peppered throughou ...more
Sarah
Apr 01, 2008 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So I started this book about twenty-seven times, and always got turned off in the first three pages because of the "normal life in the shadow of the hostage crisis" frame. Plus, the name "Muley," and eighth graders lying about giving hickies. If there is anything that doesn't say "relaxation reading" to me it's the hostage crisis; if there's anything less relaxing than hostages it's eighth grade and hickies. Ugh.

But then, if you get past page three things shift--it's not just eight graders and h
...more
Emily
One of my all time favorite novels, though not one I'd recommend to everybody. It's dense and wordy and packed with so many references it has a (hilariously deadpan) glossary at the end. It reads more like a long form magazine article than a novel. It's full of highly dysfunctional families, unhappy sex, and unlikely coincidences - things that might otherwise turn me off a book. But I love it.

The sense of place is just incredible - I picked this up for the first time well before I'd spent much
...more
Gabby
Jan 05, 2010 Gabby rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Gabby by: Entertainment Weekly Magazine
Shelves: 2009
The first review I read about this book gave me the impression that the Americans taken hostage from the Iranian embassy under the regime of the Ayatollah Khomeini played some part in the substance of this story. Only insofar as a time reference does the hostage crisis have any bearing on any part of the story that takes place in Crossing California. That misunderstanding coupled with the misleading title of this book made it somewhat disappointing for me from the beginning. Crossing California ...more
Sophie
Oct 02, 2016 Sophie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: chicago
"It seemed nearly impossible to rebel in a way that wasn't somehow secondhand."

"The bell on the Liberty Federal Savings sign was shining dark blue; that meant it would get colder that night. In the summer, the sign was usually bright red."

"To Deirdre, Muley had never really been a child; he was an adult who didn't know anything yet, and the fastest way to get him to know things was to treat him as if he already did."

"She had recently purchased a Sony Betamax videocassette player and recorder and
...more
Maura
Apr 17, 2007 Maura rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, chicago
I saw Jonathan Safran Foer speak at a reading a couple of years ago, and he mentioned that there are a lot of books that you read and like, or even that you love, but there are only very few books that you read and you feel as if they were written especially for you. I felt like this book was written especially for me. One of the central characters is a nerdy 13-year old girl interested in politics and journalism; her best friend starts out as a tape cutter at the public radio station and ends u ...more
Kris
Nov 06, 2014 Kris rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I rate this book a solid three stars or a weak four stars. I had very high expectations going into this book. One, because my partner grew up in Rogers Park in the 70's and I have heard numerous stories about it and Two, because I lived in Chicago in a neighborhood just south of Rogers Park and have been there many times and know the neighborhood myself.

There is a lot of detail about the area. It really brings the neighborhood to life and in many ways, Rogers Park is the star of the book rather
...more
David
Oct 07, 2008 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humor
Crossing California revealed both the complexities and basic elements of human nature and captured a very distinct mood in American history. Although the novel may have intended to capture a specific time and mood in Chicago, I definitely think it reflects a relatable mood inherent in all Americans even thirty years after the period described in the novel. Disillusionment in our socio-economic and political lives, the paradox of yearning for change yet resisting it, struggling with identity, and ...more
Nicole
Aug 03, 2013 Nicole rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
An interesting novel set to the duration of the Iran hostage captivity between 1979 thru 1981, Langer's piece tracks the lives of three interconnected families who live in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood of Chicago. This is a work heavily influenced by the cultural norms and idiosyncracies of Jewish life and for those not familar with some of the societal specifics of this religion, it can be both very interesting but also sometimes a distraction. The many characters take a bit to get used t ...more
Michael Kaye
Feb 22, 2016 Michael Kaye rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I got this book as a gift and never gave it a glance, until it ended up on my front lawn during a garage sale. No one was stopping by, so I began reading it to pass the time. By page six, I felt I had stumbled upon a slice of Americana so rich and so relatable, I knew I would never put the book down until it was done. Other than sleeping, that's pretty much what I did. The characters were so real, so funny, so poignant, so awkward. Langer captures adolescence perfectly. He opened up a whole new ...more
Karen Germain
Dec 15, 2007 Karen Germain rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book jumped out at me as I was browsing at Borders. I had never heard of it and didn't know much of what to expect. The book is set during the late 70's/ early 80's in a suburb of Chicago. The neighborhood is pretty much central to the story and a character in it's own right. The weird coincidence that I discovered within the first chapter, is a guy that I had a crush on for all of high school and most of my twenties, moved to this neighborhood when I was in tenth grade. His street is the s ...more
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Adam Langer is a journalist, author, playwright and filmmaker.

His work has been featured most recently on NPR's Selected Shorts, in The Best Men's Stage Monologues 2000, and The Best Women's Stage Monologues 2000, as well as in the Chicago Reader's Fiction Issue, and in the literary magazine Salt Hill. His plays have been produced in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, and numerous othe
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