Thursday, October 13, 2011

Beauty in New Jersey

New Jersey fights a stereotype viewed from the northern end of I-95.   By happenstance, I have two books that tell the tale of the opposite.  Two secretly beautiful and overlooked areas: the Pine Barrens and the Meadowlands.

1.  The Meadowlands: Wilderness Adventures on the Edge of a City, Robert Sullivan (1998).  Driving by on the highway, or looking out he window from the Amtrack, the Meadowlands is strangely compelling.  I imagine underworld figures, missing bodies, garbage dumps, but could never imagine wildlife surviving here.  Sullivan takes us through an exploration of the Meadowlands finding wildlife, the remains of Penn Station's grand facade and the history behind the dark stories of the Meadowlands.  


2.  The Pine Barrens, John McPhee (1967),  Between New York and Philadelphia is a wilderness area known as the Pine Barrens.  McPhee writes about the vanished towns, the dreamlike quality of the its dark forests and the locals known as Pineys.   McPhee is a brilliant writer and Pine Barrens has been credited with being a mini classic. 

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