Crossing Eden (Fantagraphics Books) 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. ProseBUY THE BOOK
Meet the Characters
"Once you're tangled up in the circumstance of someone else's making, you can't easily retreat to your previous life. What you do must be extraordinary. It must be something you would never conceive of otherwise."
"As she strolled about in the summer grass, love’s oldest music played in the Marie’s ear, a sweet, sentimental melody of quite confidence and private longing, a lingering song of hope and desire, fear and comfort, that rang in her heart all these years."
Cissie & Henry Hennesey
"Cissie had constantly formed clubs and tested her members’ loyalty with silly challenges: cross Lovett’s creek barefoot in December, go an entire day with both shoelaces untied, write an anonymous letter to the mayor telling him that Widow Allyson is secretly married to an Indian."
Rachel Hennesey & CW McCall
"Rachel doesn’t know the first thing about love. She flirts and curtsies for men she hardly knows, and when they’re granted an audience with her, she treats them like children begging for candy. If she were truly to fall in love, as a young woman ought to, I doubt she could bear the burden."
"Aeronautics is much too serious an enterprise to be wasted doing loop-de-loops over somebody’s barn. I have a contract taxiing business all over the South, picking them up in one town and setting them down in another. I’m absolutely convinced this new aviation game is the future."
"What is in our hearts has been there since birth and we have not denied our inheritance. It is a fact and, though not all of us embrace it, as nevertheless accept what is, and what will likely remain part of our lives here."
"The tall black man emerged from the cottonwood grove, his work clothes damp, his boots caked with mud. Marie had known too few colored folks in her life and believed in kindness as a bridge between the races. Julius Reeves was the most congenial fellow she’d met in Bellemont, clear testimony to the pure idiocy of prejudice."
"For months she was his patient guide through the narrow alleyways and crowded boulevards of the great city, his urchin Beatrice. Now this darling girl slept in his care. Had it been her imagination, or his, that suggested they required each other equally?"
Charles A. Follette
"There are ten million men in America lacking the gumption they need to get out there and earn enough to feed their own children, and most of them spend more time dreaming up slipslop schemes for gouging their fellow man than pounding the sidewalk for an honest dollar. And don’t for one second think that men like myself don’t notice it, either. There’s a view from the top drawer not many of you have a clue about. We’re up here and you’re down there, and it’s how things have been since Moses was in diapers."
"He had thought to escape somehow the relapse of consumption that raced through his blood by going away where nobody he laid eyes upon would judge him according to the prognosis of his decay, where each day would be a clean slate upon which brave new adventures would be written."
"We needn’t be children to fix our sights past tomorrow, or the day afterward, and be brave enough to call that our rightful place."
"His eyes were bluer than any Alvin had ever seen. He shaved each morning. Smelled like cologne. Wore fresh collars and a swell suit. Had his shoes shined for breakfast. Smiled at everyone he met. Never seemed scared, neither. Now that was something worth learning. Alvin could do a lot worse than taking after a smart fellow like Chester Burke."
ADDITIONAL PROJECTS & COLLABORATIONS
Seraphonium, meaning “songs of heaven” (Empyrean Records), is the innovative, musical brainchild of solitary songwriter Monte Schulz. His songs chase melody across genres, from rock to pop, classical to folk to world music.
SANTA BARBARA WRITERS CONFERENCE
Since 2010, Monte has been the owner of the Santa Barbara Writers Conference, welcoming anyone who loves books and writing of any kind, who feels he or she has a novel or a play or a screenplay, a poem, an essay, a memoir locked away inside, who wants to be part of this writing community.
For the past 20 years, Monte has has taught voice and style at the Santa Barbara Writers Conference, and recently at College of Creative Studies at UCSB. He has also mentored dozens of writing students over the years.