BOOKS

From journalist and Pulitzer Prize finalist Mark Di Ionno comes the next Great American Novel about the Great American Pastime—two men from disparate worlds on a violent collision course in this searing portrait of honor and masculinity, sport and celebrity, marriage and parenthood.

Boston fans loved first-ballot Hall of Famer Joe Grudeck all-time. The last true throwback, Grudeck played for millions under the bright Fenway lights. Now, adrift in his new life as celebrity golf partner and trophy friend, he finds himself haunted by his history, searching for connection. He’ll step back into the spotlight one final time with a very risky Cooperstown acceptance speech that has the power to change everything—except the past.

Horace Mueller demands a simple and ordinary life—working in obscurity at the Farmers’ Museum blacksmith shop in Cooperstown and living in a rundown farmhouse on the outskirts of town. He clings to an anachronistic existence, fueled by nostalgia for simpler times and rebellion against the sport-celebrity mania that dominates the world around him; he struggles to bring his baseball prodigy son to his side.

Framed by the lens of baseball—a timeless, but strikingly singular tale of the responsibilities of manhood and the pitfalls of glory; Gods of Wood and Stone is the story of one man’s search for meaningful life and fatherhood in a sports-and-celebrity obsessed age, and another man’s fight to avoid losing his soul to it.

Long before ‘fake news’ there was Fred Haines and the New York tabloids. In his much-anticipated first novel, Pulitzer Prize finalist Mark Di Ionno explores the early days of tabloid journalism built on the three stanchions of crime, sex, and greed—and how it forever corrupted what we call “news” today.

Former New York Daily Mirror reporter Fred Haines is near the end of his life when he is visited by a local journalist and asked to tell his story. At first filled with bravado, Haines tells the younger reporter, “Victims were only characters in a newspaper story,” before spinning tales of sensational news accounts in the days of the blood-and-guts tabloids.

But Haines’ career reached bottom while covering the Lindbergh kidnap-murder case, when he printed a photograph of the decomposed baby on the mortuary slab. The paper sells millions, but it costs Haines the love of his life, who is repulsed by his callousness.

This sets him on a path of redemption as he revisits the biggest news stories of the 1930s, including the crash of the Hindenburg, the shipwreck of the Morro Castle, and, in a coupe de grace of absurdity, the Martian landing in a New Jersey farm town during Orson Welles’ broadcast of “War of the Worlds.”

The Last Newspaperman is a candid and thoughtprovoking look at how the early 20th Century tabloids fueled the public’s prurient lust for crime, celebrity, and controversy—conventions never more troubling than today.

Mark Di Ionno is a Jersey guy through and through. He’s lived in fifteen different towns in six different New Jersey counties. He’s been a journalist for the state’s top newspapers, currently the Star-Ledger,where his first job was to go out and write about things that were “interesting.” Who better to take readers on a personal tour of the backroads of New Jersey?

In Backroads, New Jersey, Di Ionno leads readers off the congested interstates with their commonplace scenery to the seldom-explored secondary roads, where the real life of the state can be found. These inter-county or 500 series roads are a 6,788-mile network of mostly one-lane highways. Marked by blue-and-yellow five-sided shields bearing county names, they make up more than 20 percent of New Jersey’s public roads. They are never the fastest or most direct way to get anywhere, but when you break out of the towns and hit the country, they are a pleasure to drive.

Travel with Di Ionno as he takes readers to see the state’s amazing beauty–from the dizzying cliffs of the Palisades, to the blunted peaks of the Highlands and Kittatinny Ridges, to the rolling hills of Morris, Hunterdon, and Somerset counties, to the topsoil-wealthy agricultural belts of Monmouth and the southern counties, to the flat, sandy beaches of the 127-mile Jersey Shore. Travel with him as he shows us the homes of New Jersey’s culturally diverse population, whose men and women work at everything from farms to pharmacies, from banks to auto assembly lines. And travel with him as he recounts the history made along the back country roads in towns like Rocky Hill, where George Washington wrote his farewell orders. Di Ionno calls New Jersey “a place of infinite natural beauty, a place of intricate human patterns. A place where you can see a lot in a little time. This is, simply put, the overriding theme of this book. New Jersey is a restless state for restless people. A state for wanderers to explore.” Backroads, New Jersey is a rare chance to see it all through the eyes of a well-traveled Jerseyan. Happy wandering!

Hit the road with journalist Mark Di Ionno as he takes you on a tour of New Jersey’s extraordinary Revolutionary War history. Listing more than 350 historic sites throughout the state, Di Ionno has compiled the most complete guide ever to the Revolutionary War in the Garden State.

New Jersey’s role in the Revolutionary War is widely overlooked. Every school kid learns about the Boston Tea Party but not the Greenwich tea burning; and about the miserable winter at Valley Forge but not Jockey Hollow. Schools fund class trips to Philadelphia’s Independence Hall but not Princeton’s Nassau Hall. To find history in New Jersey, all you need is Di Ionno’s book as your guide. His easy-to-read volume helps readers explore the cities and the countryside from Bergen to Cape May County to find out exactly what happened there during the Revolutionary War.

While previously published books center on the highlights — Fort Lee and Washington’s retreat across the state, victories at Trenton and Princeton, the brutal winter encampment at Jockey Hollow and the Battle of Monmouth —  DiIonno fills in the blanks. Battlefields, churches, homes of the famous and infamous, cemeteries, parks, taverns, liberty poles, bridges, creeks, hills, museums, encampment sites, lighthouses, historical societies, walking trails, monuments, plaques—if it played a part in or commemorates the Revolutionary War in New Jersey, Di Ionno tells you what happened there, the personalities involved, and how to see it for yourself.

The sites are conveniently cataloged by county, with a helpful summary of the area’s war history beginning each chapter. Each entry lists the town and directions to each site, and where appropriate, a complete address, telephone numbers, and hours of operation. Both public and private sites are described, and Di Ionno advises readers of which private sites tours can be arranged.

Most people see the Jersey Shore as sun, sand, and surf . . . and hours in bumper-to-bumper traffic on the Garden State Parkway. But theres much more to the Shore! Long before the first hotel, miniature golf range, and amusement pier were built, explorers, sailors, and settlers were drawn to New Jerseys coast and left their mark upon it.

In this book, Mark Di Ionno invites you to join him in discovering New Jerseys rich and varied coastal heritage. Hell take you on a personal tour to explore the Sandy Hook Lighthouse and Spermaceti Cove Station, admire offbeat collections of saltwater taffy boxes and sand art in Atlantic City, spend an afternoon at Brigantine and unravel the legend of Captain Kidd, marvel at the skills of Tuckertons boatbuilders, discover New Jerseys own version of the Boston Tea Party in Greenwich, and find inspiration at Ocean Grove, a Methodist meeting place.

Organized by county and amply illustrated with photographs and maps, the guides entries give directions and information about hours, programs, and accessibility, and, above all, lively descriptions of the local history and cultural traditions that make each place special. Di Ionno includes many sites on the National Park Services Coastal Heritage Trail, but roves beyond the Trail to highlight a host of other wonderful museums, buildings, byways, and landmarks that could not be incorporated into the official trail.