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Issue 108 - Crossing California

Whisky Magazine Issue 108
December 2012


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Crossing California

Jefferson Chase reviews the tale of three families on the move

Iwas born in 1966, which means that like all other people may age, I came into the world early enough to remember the 1970s but too late to actually enjoy any of the fun.

Fortunately Adam Langer (born in 1967) has written a novel for my specific mini-generation.
Crossing California tells the stories of three Jewish families in Chicago as 1979 segues way into 1980.

But Crossing California is also more than that, thanks to the comic strength of its characters. Take, for example, young Jill Wasserstrom plotting to introduce a subversive note into the Bat Mitzvah her somewhat simple-minded, salt-of-the-earth father insists on throwing. She practices her speech He was nearly moved to tears when Jill concluded, thanking her parents, her rabbis, her teachers, her family, and her friends, “without whom I would not be here before you, inviting you to join me for sheet cake and Canadian Club.” If Jill has something of Lisa Simpson, her older sister Michelle is a promiscuous, stoned, female version of Bart.

With the horrors of the school prom approaching, she decides that parody is the best form of self-defence: She would wear the sluttiest prom dress she could track down at the Salvation Army, and tuck a hip flask of Wild Turkey into one garter and a joint in the other…She wanted to slow dance to every dreadful Journey and Billy Joel song, get all teary and tell Larry, “This should be our song.” She wanted to have sex in the backseat of a car and say “Please be gentle w...

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