New Jersey Me is set amidst the backdrop of the troubled town of Blackwater, New Jersey. A Bruce Lee + Bruce Springsteen-devoted young hero journeys toward adulthood in this devastating yet intelligent debut novel from poet + musician Rich Ferguson. New Jersey Me explores an ensemble cast of unique characters, including Blackwater’s hometown nuclear power plant; a beauty named Baby; Baby’s hell-bent-for-prison boyfriend, Terry; a Mary Kay mom high on Vicodin + Bloody Marys; + an old old tree with a taste for blood. The son of the local police chief, Mark, dreams of escaping the small town’s conflicting + oppressive codes of manhood. In the meantime, though, Mark lives a boy’s life, Blackwater-style: netting fish that have been killed by sudden coldwater emissions from the nuclear plant; kidnapping a chimp from the local circus; selling dirty socks to a local eccentric who may hold the key to Mark’s escape; dating a one-legged girl; + observing the increasingly mysterious behavior of his best friend, Jimmy. Nothing short of a near-miracle: put bluntly, this is as authentic, as lived-in an account, as pitch-perfect a rendering of the Garden State’s special brand of denizens as exists. Ferguson makes full use of his unflinching lyricist’s voice to create a stylized, symbol-rich imagining of this literary archetype as an evocative + darkly witty portrait, perfect in its imperfections, not only of a dysfunctional adolescence but also of a specific time + place in American culture. Paperback. 144 pages. 5.5 x 8.5 inches.