A Call from Jersey

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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.

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A Call from Jersey

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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.

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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.
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.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781590206874
  • Publisher: Overlook Press, The
  • Publication date: 11/29/2011
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 5.45 (w) x 8.03 (h) x 0.93 (d)

Meet the Author

Novelist, journalist and teacher, P.F. Kluge is Writer in Residence at Kenyon College. Two films, Dog Day Afternoon and Eddie and the Cruisers, have been based on his work.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 5, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    A Call From Jersey

    A Call From Jersey is a marvelously written story of German immigrant Hans and his son George, a travel writing. They take a trip down to Florida to find Han's brother Heinz but along the way their relationship becomes stronger. P.F. Kluge creates such charming characters and beautifully written stories. I enjoyed how he describes the life of the German immigrant in the 20s. Wonderfully written.

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