Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book


Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Adam Langer  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Fiction

Born: 1967 in Chicago, Illinois

Sites:


Illinois Connection

Langer grew up on North Mozart Street in Chicago’s West Rogers Park neighborhood. He attended Evanston Township High School and went away to college. He returned to Chicago in 1988 and stayed there for twelve years before moving to New York in 2000 after winning a fellowship to Columbia University's National Arts Journalism Program.

Biographical and Professional Information

Langer is a novelist, short story writer, playwright and journalist. He is the author of the novels ''Crossing California'', ''The Washington Story'', ''Ellington Boulevard'', ''The Theives of Manhattan'' and ''My Father's Bonus March''. Formerly a senior editor at ''Book Magazine'' and a columnist for ''The Book Standard'', he has written about books and authors for many other publications.


Published Works Expand for more information


Titles At Your Library

The Thieves of Manhattan: A Novel
ISBN: 1400068916

Spiegel & Grau. 2010

The famously false memoirs of James Frey may be yesterday’s news, but as this funny riff reminds us, literary fakes are as old as literature itself. Ian Minot is an aspiring writer who labors over short stories that seem destined to remain unread. His beautiful Romanian girlfriend, Anya Petrescu, finds success more easily—and leaves Ian for Blade Markham, a bloviating ex-gangbanger whose “so-called memoir” is a best-seller. When Ian is approached by ex-editor Jed Roth, who wants Ian to publish Jed’s pulpy tale of book theft and murder as a memoir, then renounce it, it’s a chance for both of them to get revenge: Jed on his former employer, and Ian on the world. Although Langer may be too cute for some (he employs made-up slang in which a penis is a portnoy), he does an engaging job with the hall-of-mirrors plot. And if readers can predict that the book they’re reading is the one that Ian ends up writing, they’ll never guess the ending. Just when you want a surprising twist, Langer delivers several.

My Father's Bonus March
ISBN: 0385523726

Spiegel & Grau. 2009

To his friends, Seymour Langer was one of the brightest kids to emerge from Chicago’s Depression-era Jewish West Side. To his family, he was a driven and dedicated physician, a devoted father and husband. But to his Adam, youngest son, Seymour was also an enigma: a somewhat distant figure to whom Adam could never quite measure up, a worldly man who never left the city of Chicago during the last third of his life, a would-be author who spoke for years of writing a history of the Bonus March of 1932, when twenty thousand World War I veterans descended on the nation’s capital to demand compensation.

Using this dramatic but overlooked event in U.S. history as a means of understanding his relationship with his father, Adam Langer sets out to uncover why the Bonus March intrigued Seymour Langer, whose personal history seemed to be artfully obscured by a mix of evasiveness and exaggeration. The author interweaves the story of the Bonus March and interviews with such individuals as history aficionado Senator John Kerry and the writer and critic Norman Podhoretz with his own reminiscences and those of his father’s relatives, colleagues, and contemporaries. In the process, he explores the nature of memory while creating a moving, multilayered portrait of both his father and his father’s generation.

Ellington Boulevard: A Novel in A-Flat
ISBN: 0385522053

Spiegel & Grau. 2008

Clarinetist Ike Morphy, his dog Herbie Mann, and a pair of pigeons who roost on his air conditioner are about to be evicted from their apartment on West 106th Street, also known as Duke Ellington Boulevard. Ike has never had a lease, just a handshake agreement with the recently deceased landlord

and now that landlord’s son stands to make a killing on apartment 2B.

Centering on the fate of one apartment before, during, and after the height of New York’s real estate boom, Ellington Boulevard’s characters include the Tenant and His Dog

the Landlord, a recovered alcoholic and womanizer who has newly found Judaism and a wife half his age

the Broker, an out-of-work actor whose new profession finally allows him to afford theater tickets he has no time to use

the Broker’s New Boyfriend, a second-rate actor who composes a musical about the sale of 2B (“Is there no one I can lien on if this boom goes bust?”). There’s also the Buyer, a trusting young editor at a dying cultural magazine, who falls in love with the Tenant

the Buyer’s Husband, a disaffected graduate student taken to writing bawdy faux-academic papers

and the Buyer’s Husband’s Girlfriend, a children’s book writer with a tragic past.

With the humor and poignancy that made Langer’s first novel, Crossing California, a favorite book of the year among critics across the country, Ellington Boulevard is an ode to New York. It’s the story of why people come to a city they can’t afford, take jobs they despise, sacrifice love, find love, and eventually become the people they never thought they’d be—for better and for worse.

The Washington Story
ISBN: 1594482187

Riverhead Trade. 2006

Chicago high-school sweethearts Jill and Muley, their families, and their friends share triumphs and despair over the course of five years that are marked by such events as the rise of Mikhail Gorbachev, the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger, and the return of Halley's comet. By the author of Crossing California. Reprint.

Crossing California
ISBN: 1594480818

Riverhead Trade. 2005

Set in Chicago's Jewish neighborhood of West Rogers Park, this is the story of three families--adults and children alike--coming of age during the tumultuous, turbulent days of the Iran hostage crisis. At the close of the 1970s, the Rovners, the Wasserstroms, and the Wills-Silvermans will have to shed their pasts to cross into that new, shining decade of hope: the 80s.