A Call From Jersey: A Novel Paperback – November 29, 2011
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"A Call from Jersey is a luminous and compelling novel about the way surprises from the past can reshape our future. An invitation to a high school reunion brings a restless travel writer back to New Jersey to confront a father he abandoned, friends he forgot, and a history he never knew. Kluge knows his characters from the inside and his comic, loving portrayals stand with the best of Russo and Irving. Jersey has never seemed more exotic. Kluge entertains while provoking all the big questions about the meaning of origins and the search for home." -- Askold Melnyczuk
"I have admired every novel by P.F. Kluge, but I must say that A Call From Jersey is the most stunning, provocative and beautifully written of all. It's splendid fiction -- of courseïbut it's like the autobiography of a life I wish I'd had. A life I wish I could animate with such powerful immediacy, humor, unmitigated emotion as this brilliant writer Mr. Kluge has. This novel is the rare iconic immigrant story-- inimitable, mesmerizing, tough-minded, generous, and haunting." -- Howard Norman, author of What Is Left the Daughter
"P.F. Kluge has enchanting powers: a narrative voice that is distinctive without being mannered, and fictional characters bold to express their deepest emotions without sentimentality. A Call From Jersey is a beautifully modulated father and son drama that reconciles two generations of German Americans, those who immigrated in the 1930s, and their more cynical offspring who came of age in the 1960s. This new novel adds a salient chapter to the history of the American dream." --Daniel Mark Epstein
¦Absorbingèas much about the 20th Century experience as it is about brothers, fathers, and sons¦ -- Publishers Weekly
"[P. F. Kluge] sketches a difficult but ultimately loving father/son relationship with a rare sincerity and welcome humor. Heartfelt, funny and poignant." --Kirkus Reviews
¦We¦re very fond of books set in New Jersey. And, since our grandparents were immigrants, we¦re very fond of books about those îtempest tossed¦ souls.¦ -- Asbury Park Press Praise for P.F Kluge
One of NPR¦s Best Books of 2008
¦A Sharply observed yet tender novel èa quirky, tart yet unexpectedly generous story.¦ -New York Times¦A sparkling new novel, witty and astute.¦ -Entertainment Weekly
¦Kluge has dozens of gorgeous, wrenching passages, details, throw-away observations. He can really write, like a man who means it.¦ -San Francisco Chronicle
¦The book¦s sense of place is authentic¦ -- New Jersey Star-Ledger
¦Engaging intergenerational storyèKluge [is] a wry and underappreciated novelist¦ -- Cleveland Plain Dealer
About the Author
- Item Weight : 10.4 ounces
- Paperback : 336 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1590206878
- ISBN-13 : 978-1590206874
- Product Dimensions : 5.38 x 0.98 x 8 inches
- Publisher : Harry N. Abrams; Reprint Edition (November 29, 2011)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #4,430,601 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Hans migrated to the U.S. from Germany in 1928. His story is that of an immigrant - creating a new life, making contacts, learning a new language, marrying and starting a family. From the minute Hans arrived in the U.S., he works toward becoming an American. That could not have been easy since he was a German living in the U.S. during World War II and, to make matters worse, his brother fought with the Nazis.
George is a successful travel writer who spends most of his time on the road. He's in his late thirties and beginning to reflect on the direction of his life. He's the son of immigrants, though he's 100% American. His mother died a few years ago and now his father is his only living relative. His relationship with his father is tense and when together, they often argue. It seems the two disagree about everything, they have wildly different perspectives, and little respect for one another.
George is working in Bangkok when he receives a note from his father about George's upcoming 20 year high school reunion and asking George to come home for a visit. Prompted by the note, George visits his father in New Jersey and the usual tension surfaces. This time, though, they decide to recreate the type of family trip they enjoyed when George was a boy and together they drive from New Jersey to Florida. Nothing says "time-together" more than a long road trip, especially when the travelers' relationship is built on little more than unexpressed resentments. Surprisingly, though, they manage to travel with limited arguments, each holding his thoughts allowing the other to talk. It's through this trip that they learn more about each other and finally began to see the other's perspective.
This book touches on a number of themes - the life of immigrants, children of immigrants, German-Americans living in the U.S. during World War II, college educated children of working class parents, the difficulty of some men to express emotions, relationships between father and son, and aging. "A Call from Jersey" pulls the reader into these characters' lives and allows us to view the world through their eyes. It's a thought-provoking novel of considerable depth.
As a New Jersey native I can say that Kluge has a deft hand at painting a picture of the charm that can be found even under all of the grime.