“Lake Effect draws its characters with a sure hand. . . . Cohen's connection to his past seems to remain strong.” –The New York Times
“So outrageous and so true. . . . the book rockets along, powered by the high octane of Cohen’s candor [and] off-beat observations.” –The New York Times Book Review
“Contains lines so heartbreakingly apt and funny I stopped to reread constantly. Cohen is a natural.” –Jonathan Lethem
“Cohen writes with confidence and humor, and he deftly evokes the aimlessness of adolescence.” –Chicago Sun-Times
“Cohen . . . has taken the everyday stuff of life and made it joyously readable. The mundane becomes richly evocative in his hands. The usual becomes unusual, the boring becomes interesting, the sweet becomes bittersweet, and Lake Effect becomes the proverbial book you can't put down.” –Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
“Arresting and thoughtful. . . . Cohen brings back the flavor of the '80s culture with insight and humor." –The Washington Post
“Cohen has written a fine book.” –Chicago Tribune
“A universal story of youth, maturity and love, Lake Effect is a probing meditation on the passage of time, an accomplished book.” –Bookpage
Rich Cohen decribes this book as being "about my early years on the shores of Lake Michigan, about my struggles with neighborhood bullies, about heeding the lessons of the school yard, about trying to look cool, about losing it all on the forced march to adulthood." The forced march to adulthood has seldom seemed as smartly cadenced as it does in this gritty and glorious memoir.
When Cohen's family lived in Libertyville, Ill., they were the only Jews in the town, but that was fine with their neighbors, who said, "Thank God, we were afraid they would sell to Catholics." This anecdote illuminates the ever-shifting status of outsiderness that Cohen portrayed with such precision in Tough Jews. It's also emblematic of this memoir of his youth. Cohen is less interested in cultural identity than in pinpointing the elliptical influences of the mid-1980s ("that decade, as odorless and colorless as noxious gas, came to inhabit every part of our lives") on him and his friends. Much of the memoir is a platonic love letter to his best friend, Jamie Drew, "the true hero of my youth, the most vivid presence." Cohen's prose is elegiac, nostalgic and Gatsby-esque double dates are remembered by "cheeseburgers and apple-pie... a root-beer float, a scoop of vanilla ice cream melting into its own foam... and in the rearview, Jamie whispered to his girl as the split-levels and convenience stores tumbled by" and conveys not only the fleetingness of teen years but a vivid portrait of Midwestern life. Cohen's memoir is filled with tender moments (e.g., Jamie telling him "he had a wet dream, which he called a rain dance... [which] is brought by the rain god, the sweetest and most charitable god of all"), but never loses its realistic, hard edge, such as when Jamie decides to drive while drunk and high, crying because his own father died in a drunk driving accident. Poignant and lyrical, this will please Cohen's fans and find new readers for him. Agent, Andrew Wylie. (Apr. 29) Forecast: Knopf plans a 50,000 first printing, and given this book's wide appeal (20- and 30-somethings who grew up in the '80s, Jewish readers, Midwestern transplants, New Yorker fans), there's a good chance it will indeed live up to the publisher's expectations. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
The decade of the '80s is still so recent that there are not many memoirs yet written about it. For Rich Cohen, the '80s was his coming-of-age decade and Glencoe on the North Shore of Chicago his fledging perch. In this story of his high school and college years, Cohen populates his world with his friends, parents and teachers and, especially, his best friend, Jamie Drew, known by all as Drew-licious. Drew was the boy with the most charm and promise and whose family (minus his father) had the least money in the affluent world of Glencoe. As the friends disperse to colleges around the country, Jamie becomes sidetracked and some of his carefully hidden secrets are revealed. The author's bittersweet recounting of his youth and his friendships is more than a personal story, although the rites of passage of his high school years and graduation are told with affection for the participants. Cohen, an author, writer for the New Yorker, and a contributing editor of Rolling Stone, captures the spirit of a specific time and place, but he also conveys the tenderness of youth on the brink of promise fulfilled and dissipated. KLIATT Codes: SA—Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2002, Random House, Vintage, 208p.,
Journalist and nonfiction author Cohen (The Avengers, 2000, etc.) tells the memorable story of his boyhood friendship with a kid haunted and cool beyond his years whose presence made everyone's life that much more lustrous. The place is Glencoe, Illinois, on the lake north of Chicago, during the 1980s, a decade Cohen remembers as "colorless and odorless as a noxious gas." Into the void walks Jamie Drew, soon to be tagged Drew-licious: dashing, smart, and imbued with the kind of unruffled awareness possessed by Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer and Richard Fariña's Gnossos Pappadopolous. Life was just that much more colorful; you felt more observant and more critical when you were in Drew's sphere of influence, even when it meant being in his shadow. (As Cohen remembers it, "my own existence, compared to his, seemed half lived.") The author recounts their experiences in an unembellished but smack-dab style that will transport readers, for better or worse, back to their teenage years. He captures the camaraderie of simply hanging out, swimming in the lake, buying records; that everyday life underlies and sustains more incandescent moments. Adventures run the gamut from merry pranks to questing after the authentic (hitting Chicago's gritty South Side to hear some blues) to Mardi Gras in New Orleans, with Drew "moving through the city like a dervish, a step ahead of the crowd, of the cops." Cohen, for all his suggestibility, finds Drew's evident mastery of all things a challenge and occasionally an indictment. By now the boys are in college, though at different schools, and as they move in and out of orbit, there is the sense that someone is destined for a fall. Doesn't happen, thus lifting this memoirfrom the predictable—but then the boys' unique niche in the continuum of youth had already done that. A fine summoning of time and place, true to the voice of adolescence. First printing of 50,000