Ann McKinstry Micou
A Guide to Fiction Set in New Jersey
Wednesday, May 29, 7pm
This book is an annotated collection of fiction set in New Jersey—its historical contexts, its social interactions, its varied landscapes—from the very end of the 18th century to the early 21st century. The collection shines a light on the engrossing history and literary importance of New Jersey’s cities, suburbs, farms, and shore. The underlying theme is the importance of place to the characters in New Jersey fiction because their diverse locations and settings shape their destinies. Some of the authors, such as Walt Whitman, were born or lived for a long time in New Jersey; others, who are known for distinctive settings, have chosen to write about New Jersey as well. For example, Stephen Crane, famous for The Red Badge of Courage, wrote mystery tales about the Jersey Shore. James Fenimore Cooper, recognized for Hawkeye in his New York State stories, sets The Water Witch in Sandy Hook. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s place in The Great Gatsby is Long Island; This Side of Paradise is set in Princeton. A more current example is John Updike, who switched from his Pennsylvania-based Rabbit series to set The Terrorist in Paterson.
The collection covers 265 exemplary authors of 365 novels, short stories, sketches, and plays. In the sections on summaries and the authors’ works, abundant quotations appear in the text and at the start of each letter from A-Z. The introduction to “R,” for example, quotes Philip Roth on the Weequahic section of Newark: “No lawn we passed, no driveway, no garage, no lamppost, no little brick stoop was without its power over me.” Most 19th century books collected in this guide are out of print. Although they exist on websites, such as Project Gutenberg or scholarly libraries, the summary descriptions in the guide reveal ample plot, character, theme, and New Jersey atmosphere. In the summary descriptions, authors’ names appear at the top of each page, like a dictionary; the reference section provides information about the authors, works, and relationship with New Jersey; dates of publication; fourteen different genres (for example, coming-of-age, campus fiction, history, humor, mystery), with authors classified under each genre; titles alphabetically; and settings with their counties.
This easy-to-use guide is perfect for general readers, as well as for students of American literature or New Jersey history, librarians, teachers, and parents. To place an order, go to watchungbooksellers.com or, for more information, call 973-744-7177
Ann Micou, The Guide to Fiction Set in New Jersey
Ann McKinstry Micou