We Cover the Waterfront

“So what do you call this, a ‘study’?” queried an ex-longshoreman after a recent Hoboken reading. I’d never thought to apply a genre-handle to the book project. While reading at various locations throughout the Port I’ve discerned eclectic spirits of earlier works—memoirs, novels, rare historical ‘studies’—that imaginatively shaped the Port’s spaces into literary places and helped us shape our version. So for example ‘my’ Jersey City originated in Tommie Smith’s Jersey City, and that of Helene Stapinski, and Tom Fleming’s, whose dozens of books–set mostly elsewhere—are framed by a tantalizingly ‘lost’ novel redolent of the patricidal Hague-Kenny war of 1949, and a memoir of his own ward-boss father. These are the Jersey City pieces of a narrative that shapes a story grander than the Irish waterfront alone; this vast still unfolding story of the great Port and the places our story seeks to weave into a coverable waterfront.

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