Simon & Schuster's Touchstone Books is releasing an anthology June 5 (this Tuesday) of famous and local authors' memoirs of living in New Jersey - and some of the writers will also be doing a reading in Hoboken on Thursday, June 14.
The more famous writers in the collection include Tom Perrotta (who wrote the book on which the film "Election" is based), Joshua Braff (brother of actor Zach Braff and author of "The Unthinkable Thoughts of Jacob Green"), Jonathan Ames, and Lucinda Rosenfeld.
But the collection also includes Hudson County residents and novelists like Caroline Leavitt, Gaiutra Bahadur, and Caren Lissner.
Hoboken plays a major part in three of the essays, including Josh Braff's. In fact, the South Orange native tells how he encounters his old seventh-grade crush at the Scotland Yard bar in Hoboken - with very interesting results.
And Jersey City is the star of journalist Bahadur's essay, in which she recounts incidents of racism hurled at her after her family immigrated there from Guyana in 1982. "I grew up in a city where the flat-roofed row houses lean close together, ogling the backside of the Statue of Liberty like a cluster of lewd old men," she writes.
The book, "Living on the Edge of the World: New Jersey writers take on the Garden State," which is edited by writer Irina Reyn, is available at all major bookstores. It can also be purchased on-line at www.amazon.com and www.bn.com, and will be available at the reading at Symposia Books on Washington Street on June 14. See the sidebar for more information on readings.
Moving on up
The book's title comes from a song by New Jersey native Bruce Springsteen. Last week, writer Caroline Leavitt, a Hoboken resident who has published eight novels and reviews books for the Boston Globe, describes her essay about Hoboken as a "Valentine to the city I love." "Hell, Home or Hoboken" describes how she and her husband moved to the mile-square city from New York in 1993, renovated an old brownstone, and were slowly accepted by cynical neighbors. Caren Lissner's essay is not actually about Hoboken, where she currently lives and edits the Hudson Reporter chain of newspapers, but instead, Lissner, who has published two novels, writes about a miserable summer during college when she slept in a car and relied on paychecks from the Great Adventure amusement park to survive. Pennsylvania-based NPR essayist Christian Bauman's essay, "The Commute," is a vignette about the Hoboken PATH train. Bauman noted last week, "I grew up in western New Jersey, near Clinton, in Hunterdon County. When I got out of the Army in 1995, many of my friends were living in and around Hoboken. I was playing a lot of guitar then, and claimed permanent couch space at my friend Gregg Cagno's apartment at Sixth and Clinton. The late great Don Brody was still holding court at Maxwell's back then. He ran a Tuesday night acoustic showcase called Folk and Fondue. When the late nights started getting to him, I took over and did the Maxwell's gig for him for about a year. It was a good job: setting up microphones, playing a few tunes, then drinking liberally while the evening's guest played." There are 18 essays in the collection. What inspired it
Bauman said New Jersey is a perfect subject for an anthology. "It's a weird state, and I mean that in the best possible way," he said. "In other parts of the country, New Jersey natives are met with a mixture of disgust and awe." Lissner said, "It's a very old state, so you have dozens of town-names on maps that aren't actually towns anymore; you have horse farms and arts centers and colonial main streets and even mountains, all making for great storytelling." Leavitt is one of the few writers in the collection who immigrated to the Garden State rather than having the good sense to be born here. Last week, she commented, "My friends were askance when I told them we might move there. But when we were looking for a place to live, we saw over 32 houses for sale in Hoboken, with backyards and fireplaces and period detail. So we bought, and now I feel about Hoboken the way I used to feel about Manhattan. Why would I ever want to move?" Of her new state, she noted, "People make fun of it, but that's just because they don't really know it. Living here breeds a tougher personality I think, and a more creative one." The book is available in all major bookstores and online. For a list of reading dates and readers, see the sidebar. Reading for "Living on the Edge of the World" - Thursday, June 14, 7 p.m., Symposia Books, 510 Washington St., Hoboken. Readers: Caroline Leavitt, Caren Lissner, Christian Bauman. captions MORE THAN A BEACH READ - Essays from famous and local novelists populate Simon & Schuster's new release, "Living on the Edge of the World: New Jersey writers take on the Garden State," in bookstores starting this Tuesday. A reading will be held on Thursday, June 14 in Hoboken at Symposia Books. Dates and readings: June 14, 7 p.m., Thursday Symposia Books 510 Washington St., Hoboken, New Jersey Readers: Caroline Leavitt, Caren Lissner, Christian Bauman June 7, 7 p.m. Barnes & Noble 518 West Mt. Pleasant Ave., Livingston, New Jersey Readers: Frederick Reiken, James Kaplan June 12, 7 p.m. PJ's Coffeehouse 315 Raritan Ave., Highland Park, New Jersey Readers: Adam Lowenstein, Elizabeth Keenan June 18, 7 p.m. Mo Pitkin's/Reader's Room series, New York, NY 34 Avenue A, New York, NY Readers: Lucinda Rosenfeld, Joshua Braff