Crossing The Hudson

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  • Format: Trade Paper
  • Copyright: 2009-03-10
  • Publisher: Other Press
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Gustav Rubin, a fur dealer in Vienna, flies to New York to spend the summer with his wife and two young children in a lake house north of the city. When he arrives late at JFK, he is met by his opinionated, unrelenting mother, Rosa. They rent a car and set out for Lake Gilead. But Gustav loses his way, and son and mother end up on the wrong side of the river. Trying to find the right route north, they become trapped on the Tappan Zee Bridge in the traffic jam of all traffic jamsa truck transporting toxic chemicals has turned overand Gustav and Mother remain gridlocked high above the Hudson River. Gustav begins to think of his beloved father, a renowned intellectual, now eleven months dead. Then, in a surprising, highly original twist worthy of Kafka, both Gustav and Mother see the body"the colossal, golem-like fatherbody" of Ludwig David Rubin floating naked in the waters below. Crossing the Hudsonis a profound meditation on a Jewish family and its past, especially the lasting distorting effects on a son of a famous, vital father and a clinging, overwhelming mother, and of the differences between the generation of European intellectual refugees who arrived in the United States during the Second World War and the children of that generation.

Author Biography

Peter Stephan Jungk was born in Los Angeles, raised in several European cities,
and now lives in Paris. A former screenwriting fellow of the American Film Institute, he is the author of eight books, including the acclaimed biography Franz Werfel: A Life in Prague, Vienna, and Hollywood (1990) and the novels Tigor (Handsel Books, 2004), a finalist for the British Foreign Book Award, and The Perfect American (Handsel Books, 2004), a fictional biography of Walt Disney’s last months, which is being adapted into an opera by Philip Glass for the New York City Opera.

David Dollenmayer is Professor of German at Worcester Polytechnic Institute and the author of The Berlin Novels of Alfred Döblin. He is the recipient of the 2008 Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator’s Prize. He lives in Hopkinton, Massachusetts.


“So, I’ll be there by four, four-thirty at the latest. When does Shabbat begin? When? And lighting the candles? 8:03? All right, 8:03. Wait a sec, Mama wants to talk to you.” He handed her the phone.

“You and your Shabbat. My son an Orthodox Jew, I still can’t believe it. Sorry, what? I already told him he shouldn’t use the phone while he’s driving. What? He looks awful. Like someone spit him out. And he rented the most ghastly car you can imagine. A pimp’s car. No, I won’t fight with him. How are the children? Amadée’s swimming? And no one’s lifeguarding him? What’s Julia up to? You’re down by the dock? Well that’s good.”

When the call was over, she looked sideways at her son, reproachfully. “The cell phone stays with me from now on. You’re completely wound up! And what’s ‘lighting the candles’ supposed to mean?”

“You were already at our house once for that, Mother. It’s when we light the candles for Shabbat, the moment that separates the previous week from the day of rest. Madeleine lights the candles, then she spreads out her arms above them and draws them in three times in a circular motion to show that she embraces the sanctity of the Shabbat. Then she puts her hands over her eyes and says the blessing. Do you remember now?”

“My son an Orthodox Jew! Unfathomable . . .”

Excerpted from Crossing the Hudson: A Novel by Peter Stephan Jungk, David B. Dollenmayer
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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