Middletown, NJ. — The Turnpike. The Parkway. The Shore.  Malls. Mobsters. Bad accents. No other state in America elicits reaction quite like New Jersey. Though the Garden State has risen to the top of pop culture consciousness, its significant and diverse literary culture has gone sorely under the radar–until now

What’s Your Exit? A Literary Detour Through New Jersey is a collection of contemporary fiction, poetry, and essay inspired by a place that piques the curiosity of all who have set foot in it…and those who haven’t. Themes of family, friendship, sex, love, fear, nostalgia and longing populate this anthology, which features writers whose visions of the Jersey landscape are as eclectic and beautiful, and as unnerving and mysterious and bold as the place that unites them.

Word Riot Press, an independent publisher based in Middletown, will release the anthology on May 15, 2010.

The anthology, edited by Alicia A. Beale and Joe Vallese, will include feature new and previously published work from over 40 writers.  Among the book’s contributors are Joyce Carol Oates, Tom Perrotta, Robert Pinsky, Jason Biggs, J. Robert Lennon, Alicia Ostriker,  Michael Rockland, Paul Lisicky, Louise de Salvo, Donna Steiner, Joe Weil, Maria Mazziotti Gillan, Lee Klein, Suzanne Paola, James Richardson, Susan Fox Rogers, Gerald Stern, JC Todd, BJ Ward, and Sung J. Woo.

An index in the back of the anthology will list the collected works by Parkway and Turnpike exits, an homage to the traditional way Jersey folk identify and relate to one another–the simple but loaded inquiry, “What exit?”


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“We want What’s Your Exit? to be our gift to New Jersey,” said Vallese, a Palisades Park native and undergraduate writing teacher at New York University.

After developing their vision for the anthology, Beale and Vallese sought a New Jersey-based publisher equally enthusiastic about the scope of the project.

“We believed Word Riot Press is a company with the passion and literary aesthetics to propel this book in both a profitable and artistic direction,” said Beale, who originates from Long Branch.

Word Riot Press publisher Jackie Corley sees the book’s publication as a milestone for the company.  “Up until this point, we have mainly published small paperbacks by rising literary notables ,” Corley said. “An anthology of this range, with such an impressive collection of established and up-and-coming authors represents an exciting step in our growth.”

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Allan Dean

Allan Dean is editor, publisher, and founder of the Atlantic Highlands Herald. Published since 1999 and selected in 2000 by the Borough of Atlantic Highlands as one of their official newspapers, making...