Monday, October 02, 2006

One you need to read

I am attracted to books about places I have lived, and since I have never lived in New York or Los Angeles, the pool is a little small. When I heard about Edward Jones's Lost in the City, short stories about black Washingtonians, I was intrigued. When Jonathan Yardley called it one of the books that "that come from nowhere to leave one astonished and delighted," well, I just had to have it.

I am reading it very slowly and when I get tired, I put it down so I don't miss anything. Always a good sign. This person captured an important point. He compares Jones to Joyce in that he created characters that are distinctly of a time and place (in this case African Americans in 20th century Washington DC) but also universal. My favorite story so far is brief, just 10 or so pages. It details a girl attending his first day of kintergarden with her mother (who she"had not yet learned to despise.") The normal sadness of the child leaving home for a broader life is made terribly poignant with the details of the story.

If like me, you have been stuck in a pulpy rut, this is just the ticket. Jones has a new collection of stories called All Aunt Hagar's Children, that I suspect will be on my reading list soon.

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