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Lost in the City by Edward P. Jones

Lost in the City (original 1992; edition 2004)

by Edward P. Jones

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456722,833 (3.96)22
Title:Lost in the City
Authors:Edward P. Jones
Info:Harper Paperbacks (2004), Paperback, 288 pages
Collections:Your library, To read

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Lost in the City by Edward P. Jones (1992)



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Very good collection. I can't wait to have some time to finish reading it. Strong voices, strong characterization, a variety of thoughts and feelings. I'm glad Jones is not just another flavor of the minute. I'll happily read more of his work. ( )
  evanroskos | Mar 30, 2013 |
Lost in the City by Edward P. Jones is just an excellent collection of short stories set in Washington DC during the 50's to 70's. The characters are black, many elderly. Jones captures a mood and situation brilliantly. The stories reverberate with humanity struggling with the effort of making sense of life. ( )
  snash | Feb 29, 2012 |
I'm a huge, huge Edward P. Jones fan. ( )
  candacekvance | Apr 17, 2009 |
What a wonderful collection of stories. Jones is spectacular at capturing nuanced dialogue. ( )
  pennyd | Dec 13, 2008 |
Lost in the City (1992) - a collection of short stories - is Edward P. Jones' first book, followed by the Pulitzer Price winning novel The Known World (2003), and All Aunt Hagar's Children (2006), a second collection of short stories. Both Lost and Aunt Hagar are about blacks in Washington, DC where Jones grew up in the neighborhoods he writes about. His stories are like mini novels with lush detail, multiple fully evolved characters and densely colloquial prose.

The stories have a common theme surrounding an old colloquial saying "Don't get lost in the city". The word "lost" means having no direction, aimless, with no intention, and the stories are about people in that sort of state of mind, simply doing time with no direction home. It also means alienation, being lost is the opposite of family and compassion, the stories involve broken and dysfunctional families, coldness. Charles Dickens wrote about London and the poor of the 19th century, but his stories were the opposite of Jones. Instead of that "coming home to family" Christmas time spirit of Dickens, Jones invokes coldness, alienation, purposelessness. I hesitate to call Jones "anthropological" because it is also very aesthetically pleasing, but like Balzac did for Paris in the early 19th century and Dickens for London, Jones invokes the spirit of a time and place that, while not full of good feelings and happy endings, does speak truthfully. The last story of the book, "Marie", ends with an old woman listening to an audio oral-history and I think Jones is telling the reader how he sees his own work, a history of a people and place.

My favorite story is in the middle of the book, "The Store", it is the most uplifting and optimistic surrounded by stories of tragedy and sadness. It is about a poor boy done good by hard work and honesty. Other stories I thought were excellent include "The Sunday Following Mother's Day" about a husband who kills his wife for no reason, and the resulting years of failed relationships with his son and daughter. It's epic scope crosses generations of multiple people, but it is also grassroots, concerning people who are invisible to society. "His Mother's House" is about a street drug dealer and his relations with his family, it helped me better understand how families (mothers, fathers, sons) and the drug culture can intermingle ."A New Man" is a heartbreaking story of a 15 year-old girl who runs away from home and is never heard from again. Overall I think the stories in Aunt Hagar are better - more fully realized, longer - however these are still excellent, Jones is one of my favorite authors.

Truman Capote in his masterpiece In Cold Blood (1960) has the following quote (an actual quote from a sister to her brother who is in jail) which I think sums up Jones' stories:

"Your confinement is nothing to be proud of.. You are a human being with a free will. Which puts you above the animal level. But if you live your life without feeling and compassion for your fellowman - you are as an animal - "an eye for eye, a tooth for a tooth" & happiness & peace of mind is not attained by living thus."

--Review by Stephen Balbach, via CoolReading (c) 2008 cc-by-nd ( )
  Stbalbach | Oct 13, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 006079528X, Paperback)

The nation's capital that serves as the setting for the stories in Edward P. Jones's prizewinning collection, Lost in the City, lies far from the city of historic monuments and national politicians. Jones takes the reader beyond that world into the lives of African American men and women who work against the constant threat of loss to maintain a sense of hope. From "The Girl Who Raised Pigeons" to the well-to-do career woman awakened in the night by a phone call that will take her on a journey back to the past, the characters in these stories forge bonds of community as they struggle against the limits of their city to stave off the loss of family, friends, memories, and, ultimately, themselves.

Critically acclaimed upon publication, Lost in the City introduced Jones as an undeniable talent, a writer whose unaffected style is not only evocative and forceful but also filled with insight and poignancy.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:19 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Lost in the City features 15 poignant short stories, each set in Washington, D.C. Far removed from marble monuments and the offices of rich politicians, the nation's capital that Jones captures is inhabited by self-willed African-Americans struggling to live their lives as best they can.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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