The “Six” Boroughs: New Jersey

We’ve arrived at the “sixth” borough in our blog series celebrating Nonstop Metropolis: A New York City Atlas by Rebecca Solnit and Joshua Jelly-Schapiro. We’ve already visited ManhattanBrooklynQueensthe Bronx, and Staten Island, and if you missed the prior posts, we encourage you to go back and read them after you’ve finished reading about New Jersey—the metaphorical “sixth” borough.

Detail from the map “The Suburban Theory of the Avant-Garde: New Jersey’s Great” featured in “Nonstop Metropolis.”

By virtue of not only its geographic location to the “nonstop metropolis” but its cultural vibrancy and contributions to music, art, poetry, and the birth of new forms and styles west of the Hudson, New Jersey has earned its place as the “sixth” borough of New York, though this moniker has been used to describe any number of places that have a special connection to the city (looking at you, Philadelphia).

We’re going to explore New Jersey’s cultural riches—but if there’s another place akin to a mythical, metaphorical “sixth” borough, please share in the comments.

New Jersey. It is the place where William Carlos Williams published his epic poem, Paterson, which would also become the primary literary output of the last twenty years of his life as it was published in five books from 1946 to 1958. It is a poem that celebrates the city as place of endless possibilities, and which, in the prefatory notes, William explains:

“. . . a man himself is a city, beginning, seeking, achieving and concluding his life in ways which the various aspects of a city may embody—if imaginatively conceived—any city, all the details of which may be made to voice his most intimate convictions.”

Continue reading “The “Six” Boroughs: New Jersey”

Twain and Clemens, Fortune-Seekers: New Podcast with Jerome Loving

One hundred years after his death, Mark Twain is still funny. “His humor was lasting because it points out the incongruity of life, that ever widening gap between illusion and reality,” says Jerome Loving, author of Mark Twain: The Adventures of Samuel L. Clemens, in this podcast.

Loving, who has also written biographies of Walt Whitman and Theodore Dreiser, talks to Chris Gondek about the characters of both Samuel Clemens, educated literary figure, and Mark Twain, humorist writing in the American vernacular. He describes how Clemens sought his fortune on the Mississippi River and in the Nevada silver mines before striking gold as a journalist, and eventually, finding immortality as a great American writer. Mark Twain will be published this spring, on the centennial of Twain’s death.

Listen to the podcast:  

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