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Sunday, September 11th, 2005

Subject:Two high recommendations. Is this community dead, or what?
Posted by:puceangel.
Time:4:31 pm.
I highly, highly recommend "Crossing California" and "The Washington Years" by Adam Langer.

Crossing California (review from the Charleston Post and Courier -- Sunday, August 8, 2004)
-------------------
"Crossing California," Adam Langer's smart, crowded and often funny debut novel, centers on the intersecting lives of three Chicago families from Nov. 4, 1979 to Jan. 20, 1981, the exact dates of the hostage crisis in Iran.
While the hostage crisis background might suggest certain automatic themes -- entrapment and helplessness, for instance -- Langer doesn't really go there. Instead, he gives us a medley of perspectives and a range of dependencies. If 1980 is a standard dividing line between the world of the Sixties -- John Lennon died that year -- and the "morning in America" that followed with Ronald Reagan's election, Langer is at least as interested in the divide between innocence and experience that frames this coming-of-age novel.
The California of the title is California Avenue in Chicago's West Rogers Park neighborhood. West of California live affluent Jews, like the Rovners, whose home turns out to be a nest of dysfunction. Ellen Rovner, therapist and mother, has come to see all humans, including those in her own family, as "sexually frustrated, self-deluded liars." Over the course of the novel, she breaks away from Michael Rovner, doctor, father and "rabid pornophile." Their children are Larry, the self-absorbed "Jerusarock jock," who will enter Brandeis unless his band makes it big with hits such as "(My Loving Ain't) Always Orthodox" and "Your Gelt Makes Me Guilty," and Lana, a kleptomaniac eighth-grader with an eating disorder.
East of California are the Wasserstroms and Wills. Charlie Wasserstrom is the hapless, job-hopping father of Michele and Jill, wise daughters who are mostly raising themselves since their mother's death. Michele is a cynical comedian and school drama queen who spends most of her time smoking pot and dodging classwork until she scores in the 98th percentile on the PSAT. Jill is sharp and moody, a quietly rebellious eighth-grader who closes her bat mitzvah speech with a cry of "Ho Ho Ho Chi Minh."
Still further east are Deirdre Wills, who cleans house for the Rovners and her son, Muley Scott Wills, dearest of all the children. Muley is an enterprising, resilient dreamer who makes gadgets and films, enters contests, and schemes to win the love of Jill Wasserstrom.
On this packed stage, as characters intersect and diverge, we come to see how much one person can mean to another. Langer's achievement is to make them matter to us.


The Washington Years (review from the Miami Herald - August 28, 2005)
-------------------
Adam Langer's delightful sequel to Crossing California is not an exposé about the nation's capital but a remarkably vivid and descriptive portrait of Chicago in the 1980s, when Harold Washington managed to defeat the Daley Democratic machine to become the city's first black mayor.

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, who has a sharp eye for the absurdities of family relations and inner-city life, grew up in the community, and his intimate understanding permeates every thoughtful description, every pitch-perfect joke, every delicious cadence of dialogue. He immerses us in the city's culture, using significant historical details as counterpoints to his characters' lives: the rise to power of Mikhail Gorbachev, the Challenger explosion and the reappearance of Halley's comet.

The story opens in 1982, a year after the events of Crossing California. Muley Scott Wills, ''the coolest eighth grader'' and budding filmmaker, is now in high school, fretting over the difficulty of creating art with an impact and fooling around with slutty classmate Connie on a school trip to Cape Canaveral. The unsettled crankiness of Muley's sort-of girlfriend Jill Wasserstrom has blossomed into passionate activism. She supports Washington's candidacy and writes for the aggressive school paper, which is ``midway between extracurricular activity and cult.''

Jill's sister Michelle, attending college in New York, disdains politics but does care about acting, and so she returns home to star in the atrocious low-budget film The Godfathers of Soul. As cynical as ever, she's surprised to find herself in love with the ambitious director, Mel Coleman, who is too old for her and not available anyway, as he is dating Muley's mom.

Michelle's ex-boyfriend Larry, creator of the rock band Rovner!, is also in college, with a fiancee who is determined to turn his songs of Jewish teen angst into a Broadway musical. Larry's torn between doing what he's supposed to do -- marry a nice Jewish girl, have kids, be successful at something -- and the horror of seeing his work ''emasculated.'' One line from ('My Lovin' Ain't) Always Orthodox has been revised from ''Take a walk with me, Zipporah/I'll show you something you won't find in your Torah'' to ''Let's stay up all night reading Torah,'' and Larry is not sure he can live with the change.

Change, though, is the constant with which these ordinary but gripping characters must cope. Muley and Jill must leave high school fantasies behind; Michelle and Larry must make serious choices for the future. Their parents need to make some adjustments, too. 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.
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Wednesday, June 22nd, 2005

Subject:Recommendation.
Posted by:puceangel.
Time:8:29 pm.
This book was surprisingly good and engrossing:

Simple as Snow by Gregory Galloway

"A mesmerizing labyrinth of art, magic, cryptic codes, and young love that sparks the imagination and teases the mind-an arresting first novel about a young man's quest to unravel the puzzle his missing girlfriend may (or may not) have left behind.

Anastasia (Anna) Cayne is a complicated high school girl with a penchant for riddles and affectionate mind games, who spends much of her time writing obituaries for every living person in town. She is unlike anyone the narrator has ever known, and her energy and enthusiasm explode his quiet universe, revealing a world of Houdini tricks, strange art, covert messages, and ghost stories-although her past remains an even bigger enigma. Even so, he couldn't be happier.

But a week before Valentine's Day, Anna disappears, leaving behind nothing except a dress placed neatly near a hole in the frozen river, and a string of unanswered questions.

Determined to find Anna-to comprehend what happened, and why-he begins to retrace their past five months together. Soon the fragments of events, conversations, and letters (and new messages that continue to arrive) coalesce into haunting and surprising revelations about friends, about family, and especially, about Anna Cayne. And perhaps these revelations will solve the puzzle of Anna's disappearance, whether it was her own invention, or is simply another of life's great mysteries."

-Publishers Weekly
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Monday, June 6th, 2005

Subject:Signed work by Susan Sontag, Jonathan Franzen,Jonathan Safran Foer, Joyce Carol Oates, & more
Posted by:magnoliaclaw.
Time:12:53 pm.
In March 2003, Political Action Committee- Downtown for Democracy brought together fourteen of the nation's most respected writers in a marathon reading. More than 2000 people flocked to Cooper Union's historic Great Hall for a celebratory night of literature and politics. Now that evening has been immortalized in "Sometimes Small Statements Make a Big Difference," a collector's portfolio of the pieces read that evening.

The portfolio features original fiction by Paul Auster, Michael Cunningham, Jennifer Egan, Jonathan Franzen, Gary Indiana, Jhumpa Lahiri, Susan Sontag, and Colson Whitehead, as well an introduction by Jonathan Safran Foer (the evening's curator), a poem by Joyce Carol Oates, and a scene from a new play by Wendy Wasserstein. Sometimes Small Statements Make a Big Difference comes in an unbound boxed edition. Each of the twelve pieces is hand-signed by its author, printed on heavy-stock, archival, 16” by 12” paper, and suitable for framing. This piece is part of a limited collectors edition.

This is a wonderful non-profit that promotes democratic values and mobilizes young voters throughout the country. If you're interested in getting limited edition, NEW work signed by these fantastic authors please email me at maureen@downtownfordemocracy.org This collection is one of the many creative ways we raise money for our cause.

Maureen
Comments: Read 1 orAdd Your Own.

Monday, May 16th, 2005

Subject:Julie Orringer; Read by Peter Dinklage
Posted by:ichabod.
Time:11:24 pm.
Because she is listed in the interests, and because it's one of my favorite stories from that book:

http://parisreview.com/viewaudio.php/prmMID/5280

the guy who reads it stumbles a few times, but I still like the reading.

there is something magical about having stories read to you.
Comments: Read 2 orAdd Your Own.

Wednesday, May 4th, 2005

Subject:The Body Never Lies
Posted by:io_lune.
Time:11:58 am.
Alice Miller, the former psychoanalyst's new book "The Body Never Lies" was just published yesterday in North America. I have a copy on order, and have also read a lengthy exerpt; it seems quite good. She talks about Virginia Woolf, several case studies, and presents new research on the way the human body reacts to the cruelty and trauma associated with the abuse of children. I've been waiting for some time for this to be published, and I cannot wait to read it.
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Monday, April 4th, 2005

Posted by:artsygeek.
Time:3:32 pm.
I'm looking for a cross between Susan Sontag and Lester Bangs. That's the sort of combo I'm shooting for as a writer.

Thanks.
Comments: Read 5 orAdd Your Own.

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2005

Subject:Harry Potter
Posted by:peanut_buttery.
Time:8:54 am.
Mood: relaxed.
To all,
I love reading books. My absolute favorite books in the world are the Harry Potter books. I have all of them and I have every book I can find about them. I love fantasy, fiction, mystery, et cetera. If there are any Harry Potter fans out there who have read other great books that they think other people should read, please comment. I am always welcome to suggestions!
Thanks,
peanut_buttery
Comments: Read 7 orAdd Your Own.

Saturday, March 19th, 2005

Subject:Looking for some new reading
Posted by:chatrbox.
Time:7:12 pm.
Mood: happy.
I read alot and i'm almost finished with a series so i need some new books to read. I prefer somthing either SciFi or Fantasy, more Fantasy then SciFi, but really anything that is good

So yup, any help would be great

Thanxs
Comments: Read 4 orAdd Your Own.

Subject:WELCOME
Posted by:wellspring.
Time:1:05 pm.
Hi Everyone,

This is the moderator with a welcome message. Do any of you have favorite authors you want to add? Just reply to this post, and I'll add them to the community interests. Well, get out there and start recommending/asking for recommendations.

- wellspring
Comments: Read 5 orAdd Your Own.

LiveJournal for *******Find New Books!*******.

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