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Crossing the Hudson

Crossing the Hudson by Peter Jungk
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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 jams–a truck transporting toxic chemicals has turned over–and 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 Hudson
is 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.
Other Press; March 2009
232 pages; ISBN 9781590513682
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Title: Crossing the Hudson
Author: Peter Jungk; David Dollenmayer
“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 . . .”