Crossing Eden

Fantagraphics Books
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 This omnibus collects Monte Schulz’s Jazz Age Trilogy of historical fiction novels, which follows various family members on the eve of the Great Depression to the circus, through bank robberies, underneath front porches and big city skyscrapers, and much more.Crossing Eden is the story of an American family in the summer of 1929, when a failed businessman divides himself from his wife and children, and a troubled farm boy runs away from home in the company of a gangster. It’s also the tale of a nation in the last months of the Roaring Twenties, a glittering decade of exuberance and doubt, optimism and fear. Set equally among the states along the Middle Border, in a small East Texas town, and in a great gleaming metropolis, Crossing Eden chronicles the Pendergast family of Farrington, Illinois, cast apart by circumstance into the early 20th century landscape of big business, tent shows, speakeasies, séances, bank robberies, lynchings, murder, romance, circuses, and skyscrapers. It’s a grand tapestry of the American experience in an age of transition from rural to urban, with our nation perched on the precipice of the Great Depression.
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About the author

Monte Schulz received his M.A. in American Studies from University of California, Santa Barbara. He published his first novel, Down by the River, in 1990, and spent the next twelve years writing a novel about the Jazz Age. His father is the late cartoonist Charles M. Schulz. He lives in Santa Barbara, CA.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Fantagraphics Books
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Published on
Jan 4, 2016
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Pages
1088
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ISBN
9781606998915
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Best For
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Language
English
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Genres
Fiction / Historical
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Monte Schulz
Based on a true story: Monte Schulz’s prose novel fictionalizes the hardboiled exploits of a real-life femme fatale, told from her hapless husband’s perspective.Veteran Joe Krueger is drifting in 1950s California, looking for work wherever he can find it. Tired after a long drive, he stops at a boardinghouse and meets sweet ― and sexy ― Ida, who rents him a room. That very night, Ida tells him “Mother” and “Father” have run their auto over a cliff, then seduces him in the teary aftermath. Smitten now, Joe starts helping out around the boardinghouse, and the two marry. The honeymoon is over when a shocking series of events force the Kruegers down to San Francisco, where Ida is injured in a bus accident. Soon enough, insurance investigators have chased them out of the city to another town where Ida schemes to swindle a motel owner out of her property. Next, the motel owner and her crippled husband are missing, a water softener salesman is shot, and workmen are digging holes in Joe Krueger’s basement. Schulz shifts gears from his recent Jazz Age Trilogy, combining the exquisitely wrought language of those novels and a straight-for-the-throat pulpy narrative. Imagine the pathology laid bare in Don DeLillo’s Libra fused with the sordid and desperate criminality of Jim Thompson’s The Getaway, and the black humor of Bruce Jay Friedman. Based on the true story of Iva Kroeger and her husband Ralph, who were indicted for the murders of Mildred and Jay Arneson in 1962, Naughtyculminates in a trial: Ida, whose crimes have (only just) begun to catch up to her, is at her zenith, pleading insanity and playing the part to the hilt. The reader learns Joe’s and Ida’s fates via excerpts from authentic court documents. Naughty explores exactly what happens when “a swell-looking babe” is unleashed on real life, leaving marks, patsies, and bodies in her wake.
Lisa Wingate
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • For readers of Orphan Train and The Nightingale comes a “thought-provoking [and] complex tale about two families, two generations apart . . . based on a notorious true-life scandal.”*

Memphis, 1939. Twelve-year-old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings live a magical life aboard their family’s Mississippi River shantyboat. But when their father must rush their mother to the hospital one stormy night, Rill is left in charge—until strangers arrive in force. Wrenched from all that is familiar and thrown into a Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage, the Foss children are assured that they will soon be returned to their parents—but they quickly realize the dark truth. At the mercy of the facility’s cruel director, Rill fights to keep her sisters and brother together in a world of danger and uncertainty.

Aiken, South Carolina, present day. Born into wealth and privilege, Avery Stafford seems to have it all: a successful career as a federal prosecutor, a handsome fiancé, and a lavish wedding on the horizon. But when Avery returns home to help her father weather a health crisis, a chance encounter leaves her with uncomfortable questions and compels her to take a journey through her family’s long-hidden history, on a path that will ultimately lead either to devastation or to redemption.

Based on one of America’s most notorious real-life scandals—in which Georgia Tann, director of a Memphis-based adoption organization, kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country—Lisa Wingate’s riveting, wrenching, and ultimately uplifting tale reminds us how, even though the paths we take can lead to many places, the heart never forgets where we belong.

*Library Journal


Praise for Before We Were Yours

“A [story] of a family lost and found . . . a poignant, engrossing tale about sibling love and the toll of secrets.” —People

“Sure to be one of the most compelling books you pick up this year. . . . Wingate is a master-storyteller, and you’ll find yourself pulled along as she reveals the wake of terror and heartache that is Georgia Tann’s legacy.” —Parade

“One of the year’s best books . . . It is impossible not to get swept up in this near-perfect novel.” —The Huffington Post

“Lisa Wingate takes an almost unthinkable chapter in our nation’s history and weaves a tale of enduring power.” —Paula McLain, New York Times bestselling author of Circling the Sun
Monte Schulz
A Great Gatsby for the 21st century.

A novel of the Jazz Age, The Big Town is the story of a failed businessman whose dreams of prosperity hinge on the secret proposition of a millionaire industrialist and a dangerous relationship he finds with a poor orphan girl chasing love in the great American metropolis.

Harry Hennesey’s hopes of success, both in his household and the world, have driven him to sell his home in an Illinois small town and take his chances in the big city. He rents a room in a run-down hotel. He deals in wholesale items scavenged from yard sales and close-outs. One night at a movie theater downtown, he meets a teenage flapper named Pearl who latches onto him and won’t let go. For several years now, Harry has threatened his marriage and self-esteem with innumerable infidelities. Now he finds himself falling in love with a girl less than half his age. But that’s not all.

Charles A. Follette, chairman of the board of the American Prometheus Corporation, comes to him with a slick proposition: find Follette’s missing niece, and the road to riches shall be his. Soon, though, Harry discovers a darker secret to the identity of the missing niece and what lies behind the urgency for her detection. It’s this revelation that leads him to a closer examination of what it means to the life he’s known since the birth of his children and that life he believes awaits him if he can only reach the top of the ladder.

Harry’s story in The Big Town is set against a fantastic backdrop of an archetypal 1920s American big city. We see speakeasies, sanitariums, skyscrapers, and a glittering Gatsby-like party high atop the metropolis. Lost in his own moral confusions, we watch Harry try to reform his young lover and uncover the secret of her own past in a small canal town miles beyond a city where gangsters murder ordinary citizens and everyone seems to have a get-rich scheme as the Roaring ’20s come to a thunderous close. The Big Town evokes a lost era through language and flamboyant characters reminiscent of Fitzgerald, Dos Passos, Ring Lardner, etc. Yet it’s also eerily relevant to our own time with its study of the role of business, crime, morality, and love in our lives.

Monte Schulz
In the summer of 1929, three strong-willed women, related by marriage, gather under one roof: widowed matriarch Maude Hennesey, whose belief in old-fashioned ways is shared by the ladies of her club; her pretty, spoiled daughter Rachel; and daughter-in-law Marie, who’s been forced by her husband, Harry, to uproot their two small children and take up residence in his family’s East Texan home until economic circumstances improve. Monte Schulz, son of celebrated Peanuts cartoonist Charles Schulz, examines not only the conflicts within the family, but the racial, gender and religious tensions of small-town Bellemont. As the summer wears on, Maude firmly lectures the unwelcome Marie on class distinctions, Rachel fights and flirts with her dashing pilot beau CW, and Marie reevaluates her marriage to salesman Harry during their separation, while fending off her employer Jimmy Delahaye’s slow seduction.

Meanwhile, storms gather as a child’s unnatural death sends shock waves throughout the community, instilling a sense of dread in both the reader and Marie, who’s already lost her firstborn to tragedy. Things come to a head when a black war hero, Julius, is accused of murder: surprising truths about these three women are revealed. In the calm after the storm, each woman learns to live her life on her own terms.

Schulz’ dynamic female characters, though accessible to a wide audience, have particular appeal for women. Schulz understands that readers find it refreshing when authors flesh out their protagonists by examining who they are through the prism of familial interactions, not just romantic relationships. Contemporary readers can identify with many of the issues that wife and parent Marie struggles with in The Last Rose of Summer, even though (and, perhaps, because) it concludes just as the Jazz Age is poised to shift into the Great Depression. 

Monte Schulz
Based on a true story: Monte Schulz’s prose novel fictionalizes the hardboiled exploits of a real-life femme fatale, told from her hapless husband’s perspective.Veteran Joe Krueger is drifting in 1950s California, looking for work wherever he can find it. Tired after a long drive, he stops at a boardinghouse and meets sweet ― and sexy ― Ida, who rents him a room. That very night, Ida tells him “Mother” and “Father” have run their auto over a cliff, then seduces him in the teary aftermath. Smitten now, Joe starts helping out around the boardinghouse, and the two marry. The honeymoon is over when a shocking series of events force the Kruegers down to San Francisco, where Ida is injured in a bus accident. Soon enough, insurance investigators have chased them out of the city to another town where Ida schemes to swindle a motel owner out of her property. Next, the motel owner and her crippled husband are missing, a water softener salesman is shot, and workmen are digging holes in Joe Krueger’s basement. Schulz shifts gears from his recent Jazz Age Trilogy, combining the exquisitely wrought language of those novels and a straight-for-the-throat pulpy narrative. Imagine the pathology laid bare in Don DeLillo’s Libra fused with the sordid and desperate criminality of Jim Thompson’s The Getaway, and the black humor of Bruce Jay Friedman. Based on the true story of Iva Kroeger and her husband Ralph, who were indicted for the murders of Mildred and Jay Arneson in 1962, Naughtyculminates in a trial: Ida, whose crimes have (only just) begun to catch up to her, is at her zenith, pleading insanity and playing the part to the hilt. The reader learns Joe’s and Ida’s fates via excerpts from authentic court documents. Naughty explores exactly what happens when “a swell-looking babe” is unleashed on real life, leaving marks, patsies, and bodies in her wake.
Monte Schulz
A seductive novel of southern lyricism.Monte Schulz's prose novel opens in the spring of 1929, as the 19-year-old consumptive farm boy Alvin Pendergast attends an ill-fated dance marathon he's too sickly to participate in. After a year of his life has been stolen by a sanitarium, Alvin knows he's relapsing, and dreads not only the drudgery of his family's homestead, but a return to the hospital. In this state of mind, an invitation for a late-night slice of pie is too seductive to pass up and before he knows it, Alvin crosses the Mississippi River and finds himself working for a slick con artist named Chester Burke.

Alvin is no match for Chester, who's not merely a con man, but a gangster from Chicago, following the bootleg liquor trade through the small towns of America's middle border. With Alvin in tow, Chester's insouciant disregard for life serves him well as he embarks upon a series of bank robberies and senseless murders. All summer long, Chester assumes the role of a dark angel on Judgment day, cleansing the scrolls of those whose sad fortune had drawn them across his path. Too ill to flee, too morally weak to object, Alvin resigns himself to what seems like certain doom somewhere down the road. Fortunately, Alvin finds another companion on his journey, a lonely, eccentric, and grandiloquent dwarf named Rascal, whose own infirmity binds his and the farm boy's destiny together. Drawn deeper and deeper into Chester's murderous frolic, they come across a curious assortment of characters, from small town businessmen and religious kooks to wayward girls and dance contestants, spiritualists and sideshow freaks. Caught between Chester's villainy and Alvin's own physical deterioration, the young farm boy must make a decision: stick with Chester, who would surely kill him at the slightest hint of betrayal, or muster the courage to stake his life on faith in Rascal's clever plan to save them both. Tired of being afraid, Alvin finally grasps the need not only to outwit the gangster but to find another road to travel. What he discovers about the meaning of home offers a solution to escape and freedom.

This Side of Jordan is a thoroughly American novel told in the voice of a lost generation hurtling toward the Great Depression, and evokes a long ago America of crowded Main Streets and tourist camps, miles of cornfields, rural church¬es, and musty parlors. It ends on the fairgrounds of a traveling wagon circus that beckons gangster, farm boy, and dwarf toward a startling resolution, and a hard-fought absolution for the two young, frightened collaborators. The narrative of this novel has the momentum of a freight train, but told in the seductive, rhythmic tradition of Southern lyricism reminiscent of Flannery O'Connor and Truman Capote, and filled with vivid, outsized literary characters. If Jim Thompson and Carson McCullers went on a collaborative bender by kidnapping Holden Caulfield, Perry Smith, and Ignatius J. Reilly, they'd have come up with something like This Side of Jordan.
Monte Schulz
A Great Gatsby for the 21st century.

A novel of the Jazz Age, The Big Town is the story of a failed businessman whose dreams of prosperity hinge on the secret proposition of a millionaire industrialist and a dangerous relationship he finds with a poor orphan girl chasing love in the great American metropolis.

Harry Hennesey’s hopes of success, both in his household and the world, have driven him to sell his home in an Illinois small town and take his chances in the big city. He rents a room in a run-down hotel. He deals in wholesale items scavenged from yard sales and close-outs. One night at a movie theater downtown, he meets a teenage flapper named Pearl who latches onto him and won’t let go. For several years now, Harry has threatened his marriage and self-esteem with innumerable infidelities. Now he finds himself falling in love with a girl less than half his age. But that’s not all.

Charles A. Follette, chairman of the board of the American Prometheus Corporation, comes to him with a slick proposition: find Follette’s missing niece, and the road to riches shall be his. Soon, though, Harry discovers a darker secret to the identity of the missing niece and what lies behind the urgency for her detection. It’s this revelation that leads him to a closer examination of what it means to the life he’s known since the birth of his children and that life he believes awaits him if he can only reach the top of the ladder.

Harry’s story in The Big Town is set against a fantastic backdrop of an archetypal 1920s American big city. We see speakeasies, sanitariums, skyscrapers, and a glittering Gatsby-like party high atop the metropolis. Lost in his own moral confusions, we watch Harry try to reform his young lover and uncover the secret of her own past in a small canal town miles beyond a city where gangsters murder ordinary citizens and everyone seems to have a get-rich scheme as the Roaring ’20s come to a thunderous close. The Big Town evokes a lost era through language and flamboyant characters reminiscent of Fitzgerald, Dos Passos, Ring Lardner, etc. Yet it’s also eerily relevant to our own time with its study of the role of business, crime, morality, and love in our lives.

Monte Schulz
In the summer of 1929, three strong-willed women, related by marriage, gather under one roof: widowed matriarch Maude Hennesey, whose belief in old-fashioned ways is shared by the ladies of her club; her pretty, spoiled daughter Rachel; and daughter-in-law Marie, who’s been forced by her husband, Harry, to uproot their two small children and take up residence in his family’s East Texan home until economic circumstances improve. Monte Schulz, son of celebrated Peanuts cartoonist Charles Schulz, examines not only the conflicts within the family, but the racial, gender and religious tensions of small-town Bellemont. As the summer wears on, Maude firmly lectures the unwelcome Marie on class distinctions, Rachel fights and flirts with her dashing pilot beau CW, and Marie reevaluates her marriage to salesman Harry during their separation, while fending off her employer Jimmy Delahaye’s slow seduction.

Meanwhile, storms gather as a child’s unnatural death sends shock waves throughout the community, instilling a sense of dread in both the reader and Marie, who’s already lost her firstborn to tragedy. Things come to a head when a black war hero, Julius, is accused of murder: surprising truths about these three women are revealed. In the calm after the storm, each woman learns to live her life on her own terms.

Schulz’ dynamic female characters, though accessible to a wide audience, have particular appeal for women. Schulz understands that readers find it refreshing when authors flesh out their protagonists by examining who they are through the prism of familial interactions, not just romantic relationships. Contemporary readers can identify with many of the issues that wife and parent Marie struggles with in The Last Rose of Summer, even though (and, perhaps, because) it concludes just as the Jazz Age is poised to shift into the Great Depression. 

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