A Call from Jersey

A Call from Jersey

4.0 1
by P. F. Kluge
     
 

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With A Call From New Jersey Kluge has outdone himself with a long view of the American experience and the steady mutation of the American dream.
Set in the1980's it follows the life of Hans Greifinger, a German-American who immigrated to the United States in 1928 and built a life for himself and his son, George, who has adopted the surname Griffin for his… See more details below

Overview

With A Call From New Jersey Kluge has outdone himself with a long view of the American experience and the steady mutation of the American dream.
Set in the1980's it follows the life of Hans Greifinger, a German-American who immigrated to the United States in 1928 and built a life for himself and his son, George, who has adopted the surname Griffin for his nationally-syndicated lackluster travel column.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
German immigrant and widower Hans Greifinger and his travel-writer son, George Griffin, narrate Kluge's latest (after Gone Tomorrow), an absorbing if slightly restrained novel that's as much about the 20th-century American experience as it is about brothers, fathers, and sons. In straightforward prose peppered with German, Hans evokes 1920s New York as he and his ever-charming, ever-gambling brother, Heinz, emigrate from Germany and set up new lives. These are the book's strongest sections, as Hans marries and raises a family in New Jersey, while Heinz, burned by debts, returns to Germany just in time for the war. In the narrative present--1984--Hans seeks to discover what ever happened to the still-missing Heinz, who fought in the German army in WWII. Hanging on his findings are Hans's home--intended for George--and Hans's golden years, which he intends to pass on the Elbe. Though the chapters narrated by George don't have the high stakes of his father's journey or the strengths of Hans's voice, they still evoke the painful communion of father and son, and humorously chronicle George's attempts to escape loneliness. (Sept.)
Asbury Park Press
We're very fond of books set in New Jersey. And, since our grandparents were immigrants, we're very fond of books about those 'tempest tossed' souls.
Askold Melnyczuk
“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.”
Daniel Mark Epstein
“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.”
Asbury Park Press Praise for P.F Kluge
“Were very fond of books set in New Jersey. And, since our grandparents were immigrants, were very fond of books about those tempest tossed souls.”
NPR
“One of NPRs Best Books of 2008”
New York Times

A Sharply observed yet tender novel - quirky, tart yet unexpectedly generous story.

Entertainment Weekly
“A sparkling new novel, witty and astute.”
San Francisco Chronicle
“Kluge has dozens of gorgeous, wrenching passages, details, throw-away observations. He can really write, like a man who means it.”
New Jersey Star-Ledger
“The books sense of place is authentic”
Cleveland Plain Dealer
“Engaging intergenerational story - Kluge [is] a wry and underappreciated novelist”
Library Journal
Judging from pop culture, you might think that all the immigrants to New Jersey came from Italy. Kluge (Eddie and the Cruisers) corrects this misconception with a sympathetic story about German immigrants to the Garden State. The novel alternates between the voice of Hans Greifinger, who comes to America in the early 1930s, and that of his son, George, a travel writer who changes his last name to Griffin. George is a disappointment to his widowed father, who considers his son's work second-rate. The novel is set in 1984, as George comes home to attend his 20-year high school reunion. Unfortunately, Hans's story of becoming an American, especially during the war, is far more compelling than George's more recent history. VERDICT Both male and female readers might enjoy this novel, but its target audience consists of baby boomers over 60. It does have a dated feel and would have packed more punch had it been published 25 years ago.—Leslie Patterson, Rehoboth, MA
Kirkus Reviews

Set in 1980s New Jersey, Kluge's novel (Gone Tomorrow,2008, etc.) follows a German immigrant and his travel writer son's attempt to forge an emotional connection as they tackle issues of home, family, identity and artistic integrity.

After receiving a letter from his father, Hans, George Griffin returns to his childhood home in New Jersey, where Hans tells him about his plan to sell the house and move back to Germany, his country of origin. The two quickly fall into a familiar pattern of bickering. George thinks his father is stubborn and old fashioned, and Hans has never understood why George anglicized Greifinger, his German surname. Hans also thinks George's work doesn't live up to his early potential. Not that George disagrees: His travel writing is hacky at best, full of cliché and groaningly purple prose, and he knows it. On the other hand, it pays for trips around the world, and for a pricy apartment in Manhattan with a view of Central Park. Hans, who has lived in New Jersey for decades, came to New York in the '20s and spent years in one of the city's vibrant German neighborhoods. The Manhattan—and later on, New Jersey—that Hans remembers was very different from what George knows, full of beer and sausages and the German language, and time spent with Hans's more sociable brother Heinz. Meanwhile, back in the New Jersey of the '80s, George runs into some friends from high school at a diner. He reconnects with his old acquaintances, including the object of an intense high-school crush, and wonders whether he should go to his upcoming high-school reunion after all. But when Hans receives an intriguing postcard, the two set off on a car ride to Florida, giving them plenty of time to figure each other out. Kluge shifts perspective between George and Hans, lending each character a distinct, equally compelling voice. He sketches a difficult but ultimately loving father/son relationship with a rare sincerity and welcome humor.

Heartfelt, funny and poignant.

From the Publisher
Praise for A Call From Jersery

"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

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781590203613
Publisher:
The Overlook Press
Publication date:
09/02/2010
Pages:
352
Product dimensions:
6.50(w) x 9.50(h) x 1.50(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

Daniel Mark Epstein
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.
Howard Norman
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 course—but 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)
Askold Melnyczuk
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.

Read More

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