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Living on the Edge of the World: New Jersey Writers Take On the Garden State

3.48  ·  Rating Details  ·  52 Ratings  ·  19 Reviews
Mobsters. Big hair. The smelly Turnpike. The poor cousin of its glittering neighbor Manhattan. Could that really be all there is to New Jersey? In Living on the Edge of the World, the best and brightest young writers from the much maligned state answer back with edgy, irreverent pieces of nonfiction paying tribute to New Jersey's unique place in the cultural consciousness. ...more
ebook, 256 pages
Published June 5th 2007 by Touchstone (first published 2007)
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Feb 21, 2008 Frederick rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People from anywhere.
Shelves: essays
I've read about a third of the essays in this book, choosing them randomly.
Three of the essays I read were first-rate: "Uncommon Criminal," by James Kaplan, is a straightforward essay about a mobster, taking his suicide as its starting point. In "New Jersey, 1963," Dani Shapiro describes what she went through growing up in a neighborhood where her family was the target of anti-semitism. In "Horizon House," Frederick Reiken details his parents' break-up, during which he was shuttled between Livin
Jun 10, 2007 Nicole rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
if you're from new jersey, as i'm sure the only people who feel compelled to read this book are, it's pretty fun. the jonathon ames story is his typical "sex with a teenager" crap, but some others surprise. lauren grodstein's essay on camden is great, and not just because she wrote me all my grad school recommendations. it's nice to read about lots and lots of people's love of bruce springsteen, and no one calls him the boss, because in nj no one really does that.
Nov 15, 2007 Robin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Pretty cool. I actually learned a couple new things about New Jersey...and they weren't negative things! It's a collection of short stories and not all of them are of equl quality. At least two are downright boring. But over all it wasn't a horrible book.
Jul 04, 2007 Heidi rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I picked this up when I ran across it, half hoping something in it would explain Jersey to me. (I've spent one academic year there so far for grad school.) I agree with statements by previous reviewers that this essay collection is uneven and probably of interest more to people who grew up in or otherwise identify with Jersey. As a Midwesterner who grew up in suburbia but prefers cities, there wasn't enough here to reveal any uniqueness about Jersey suburbs to me. One writer's father told him th ...more
Apr 04, 2010 Brendan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
A collection of 18 short stories written by authors who lived or live in New Jersey. They're more like memoir entries than fictional accounts; snippets of memories of their experiences in the Garden State.

It's a good book for reading over a course of several days, with the conveniently lengthed stories and variety of voices. The collection succeeds in bringing out the complexities of the state and its residents. The book delves beyond the stereotypes, while sometimes acknowledging the factual r
Rogue Reader
Organized by the NJ Parkway exits and written as the Sopranos brought fame to the state, this collection is an excellent read. Each story is uniquely painful, nostalgic or zaney.

Ogling the Statue of Liberty (Exit 14B) is the progressive Americanization of Bahadur's family as they move from neighborhood to neighborhood and finally to a white picket fence dream home. Lissner's A Rumble and a Scream (Exit 7A) is every NJ teen's mindless summer job, hers at Great Adventure and complicated by povert
Yulianto Dewata
Jan 12, 2015 Yulianto Dewata rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Only few really put me into interest. I guess it's just the writing style that's not for me.
Ken Dowell
Jul 24, 2011 Ken Dowell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Essays about New Jersey by New Jersey authors. At times I thought I was reading my own biography. Full of uniquely Jersey experiences, like a first kiss under the pier in Seaside Heights, trying to steer your car through the Indian section of Jersey City and resenting the people who show up at Nets games in Knicks gear. Authors are all identified by their Turnpike or Parkway exit numbers. For me, this added to the authenticity. For readers from say the West Coast, probably not so much. And that ...more
Edwin Battistella
Oct 22, 2013 Edwin Battistella rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book captures the gritty charm of New Jersey, from the bogs of Cranbury, to Great Adventure and the shore to the condos of Jersey City. The stories are diverse both geographically and thematically and touching. There’s loss--of the family farms and innocence—and the struggle to find one’s place. And there is the usual cast of characters—the Jersey Devil, parents, siblings, mobsters, and people from across Lincoln Tunnel.

I passed along my copy to another NJ ex-pat.
Dec 01, 2010 Tracyj rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to love this book, I really did. Being born and raised in NJ and married to a jersey boy - I love nothing more than reading books that take place in my garden state. So what better than a book of short stories about New Jersey? Like most anthologies, the stories were uneven. Some were real gems while others were yawners. I definitely recommend this book if you have any connection with NJ, otherwise you may find many of these stories unrelatable.
Absolutely loved the concept but the collection overall was disappointing, perhaps most of all because there wasn't enough variety in the geography of the essays. 75% of them seemed to be about North Jersey, which seems to go against the concept of the book! In the collection, I found three gems: "Taking the Nets" by David Roth, "Ogling the Statue of Liberry" by Gaiutra Bahadur and "New Jersey, 1963" by Dani Shapiro.
Jul 08, 2007 Julie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A book I was given because my parents and grandparents all hail from NJ, I found this collection of stories mediocre, at best. Some selections were resonant, but others seemed pointless. Many had the same themes, and the repetition got tiresome. Maybe only an anthology true New Jersey-ites could love.
I'm always looking for connections to New Jersey in my reading, the "hey, I've been there"'s. This was a good find through Whitney Matheson of USA Today's Pop Candy blog.
Debbie Valenta
Jul 15, 2010 Debbie Valenta rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you're from the Garden State or love someone who is, this collection of short stories from native writers is not to be missed.
Aug 12, 2009 Alex rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nice little collection of stories about my home state from Jersey folks. Some surprising, some dark but mostly funny.
Sep 28, 2008 J rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Most stories will hit a chord with anyone from the Jerze - no matter what exit you hail from.
Erika Dreifus
I spent half my childhood (ages 9-18) in N.J. And I'm a writer. Couldn't resist this one!
Jul 01, 2009 Ajabee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A song to a Jersey heart of longing, understanding, and defining the value of home
May 07, 2008 Caren rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: recently-read
a must read for any current or former resident of the Garden State!
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Irina Reyn is the author of the forthcoming novel, THE IMPERIAL WIFE. Her first novel, WHAT HAPPENED TO ANNA K., was published in 2008.
She writes book reviews, essays, short stories and other things! Check out her website
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“You know why they call it the Garden State, don't you? It's like the Garden of Eden-- everyone is from there originally, but no one you meet actually lives there anymore.” 1 likes
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