Saturday, May 27, 2006

Between the Covers

Washington, D.C. is home for the souls who populate Edward P. Jones’ "Lost in the City". It’s a terrific collection of fifteen short stories, and Jones paints his people with quick, powerful strokes. There’s the sharp, mouthy Cassandra with her stolen car in "The Night Rhonda Ferguson was Killed". There’s Caesar, the young hood who is at the center of "Young Lions." And there’s Horace, the vain widower who lets his life careen out of control in "A Rich Man."

The stories all revolve around black families in D.C., and many of them are set in the fifties and early sixties. These are not necessarily harsh stories of big city life, although that reality is always simmering in the background. Jones weaves a story out of something as simple as a child’s first day of school ("The First Day") or a chance meeting with a dreadlocked man at the subway station ("An Orange Line Train to Ballston")

"One night, all of us - me, Lonney and his mother and Brenda and her parents – were sitting arouind his living room, talking about the wedding and everything. Someone knocked on the door and Lonney opened it. It was his old man, standing right there tall and straight as a lamppost in his uniform. You know something’s wrong when a man doesn’t even have a key to his own house."

From "The Store"

A nod to Lance Mannion, who made me want to read this.

No comments: