Tinton Falls native Tobias Carroll has always been a meticulous observer.

In high school and college, he became entrenched in Jersey punk rock and hard core scene of the 1990s. That searching eye, bearing witness, storing it in a file folder in the back of brain for later use, would lead to his novel Ex-Members about a punk rock band hailing from the fictional town of New Dutchess, New Jersey. Even the invention of New Dutchess owed itself to Carroll's exacting attention to detail.

"I realized that the fictional band in it would not have really fit in with any other part of the New Jersey punk scene, so I had to create this other weird thing," Carroll said.

This thoroughness has led the Monmouth Regional High School alum to be considered regarded as a thoughtful book critic and a champion of early career writers emerging from small presses and literary journals.

He's the managing editor of the literary journal Vol.1 Brooklyn, which launched in 2009. His writing has appeared in Rolling Stone, Tin House, and Bookforum, among other. He currently lives in Brooklyn.

Novel In the Sight Released in February 2024

Whisk(e)y Tit
Whisk(e)y Tit

Carroll's third novel In the Sight was released from Whisk(e)y Tit books in February 2024. In the Sight follows Farrier on a road trip as he encounters questionable customers and menacing colleagues in his illegal brain modification.

"He's probably the least sympathetic character I've ever written," Carroll said. "I don't say it was fun, but it was interesting to be writing someone who was not necessarily trying to do his best and be a good, upstanding citizen but was in the midst of doing some kind of weird stuff."

While the novel doesn't take place in New Jersey, the backdrop of a road trip draws from Carroll's experience.

"I've written a lot of things that are inspired by where I grew up, but I've written very little that he's set where I grew up," Carroll said.

The experience of being tied to a car, of having a large part of your life happening in transit rings true for most New Jerseyans and factors in heavily in Carroll's fiction.

His short story collection Transitory is propelled by this impulse.

Transitory Reissued in December 2023

7.13 Books
7.13 Books

Carroll's short story collection was originally published by Civil Coping Mechanisms in 2016 and was re-released with new some new material by 7.13 Books in December 2023.

Some Jerseyana weaves its way more explicitly into Transitory. Fellow Monmouth County residents will recognize something of the Evil Clown of Middletown in the short story "We Lived Beside the Wonderclown."

Carroll is currently on book tour in support of In the Sight and the reissue of Transitory. He'll be at the Asbury Book Co-Op on Saturday, July 13 at 7PM with Julian Tepper and Christina Cooke.

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Gallery Credit: Sarah Jones

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