I’m off to Chicago tomorrow for the annual convention of the American Jewish Press Association. I took the picture at left during my first and only other trip to Chicago — which happened to be last week, for a bar mitzva. Go figure.
I’ll leave you with a Chicago reading recommendation: Crossing California, by Adam Langer. In his thick 2004 novel, Langer brings a fanatical sense of place and time to a story about teens growing up in the heavily Jewish West Rogers Park neighborhood on the cusp of the Reagan era. I found the unrelenting satire a little exhausting (among the delusional and largely un-self-aware main characters, the only one who is close to being what my 8th-grade English teacher would call “normative” is the only non-Jew, the African-American son of a single mom), but Langer deftly handles the cross-cuts between a few dozen intersecting plots, and how could you not like a novel that includes a would-be Jewish rocker who writes songs like “It’s Not the Meat, it’s the Moshe”?
The book it most brought to mind was Jeffrey Eugenides’ “Middlesex,” a similarly ambitious recreation of time and place in a big Midwestern city (Detroit) among a distinct suburban ethnic group (Greeks).