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Lost in the City [Anglais] [Broché]

Edward P. Jones

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Description de l'ouvrage

30 novembre 2004

“Original and arresting….[Jones’s] stories will touch chords of empathy and recognition in all readers.”
Washington Post

 “These 14 stories of African-American life…affirm humanity as only good literature can.”
 —Los Angeles Times

A magnificent collection of short fiction focusing on the lives of African-American men and women in Washington, D.C., Lost in the City is the book that first brought author Edward P. Jones to national attention. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and numerous other honors for his novel The Known World, Jones made his literary debut with these powerful tales of ordinary people who live in the shadows in this metropolis of great monuments and rich history. Lost in the City received the Pen/Hemingway Award for Best First Fiction and was a National Book Award Finalist. This beautiful 20th Anniversary Edition features a new introduction by the author, and is a wonderful companion piece to Jones’s masterful novel and his second acclaimed collection of stories, All Aunt Hagar’s Children.

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Descriptions du produit

Revue de presse

“A powerful fiction debut.” (New York Times)

“Original and arresting. . . . [Jones’s] stories will touch chords of empathy and recognition in all readers.” (Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post)

“Jones writes knowingly. . . . His insightful portraits . . . make this a poignant and promising first effort.” (Publishers Weekly)

“Edward P. Jones has a commanding voice. His collection of stories is arresting.” (Terry McMillan, author of Waiting to Exhale)

“[A] powerful…generous…collection.” (USA Today)

“Although these experiences will be unfamiliar to many readers, Jones instills humanity in his characters and stories.” (Library Journal)

“Poignant. . . . Gripping. . . . [Jones] has a careful ear for dialogue.” (Washington Times)

Quatrième de couverture

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.

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Couverture | Copyright | Table des matières | Extrait | Quatrième de couverture
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Amazon.com: 4.5 étoiles sur 5  38 commentaires
27 internautes sur 28 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Phenomenal! 26 février 2005
Par Kharabella - Publié sur Amazon.com
I have a strange suspicion that I would not have read Lost in the City if Edward P. Jones had not won the Pulitzer Prize for The Known World. And I think that would have been a big, big mistake.

This is an excellent collection of short stories, even for someone who doesn't really know a thing about Washington, D.C. or the people who live there. The stories aren't short stories in the most traditional sense - they don't end with surprising or inevitable events or revelations. But each and every glimpse into the lives of these characters is interesting, thoughtful, and specific. Jones manages to paint a colorful, human, and memorable picture of the lives of each of the characters he introduces.

Perhaps the most arresting part of his the stories, for me, is the language. There are so many passages that I will remember, but I will only share a few. In the story "Young Lions," a character named Caesar says to his girlfriend that he loves her:

"I'm glad you told me," she said. "I was beginning to wonder. You made my day."

He promised to fix her dinner before to went to Manny's and he told her once again that he loved her.

"I wish I could record that," she said, "and play it back any time I wanted."

These lines alone told me so, so much about the girlfriend, Carol, and I know that I won't forget her. Later, a character in a story called "The Sunday Following Mother's Day" notes that her father "sounded like every black country person she had ever heard, those people who talked of fetchin this and wearin britches and someone commencin to do such and such." I laughed out loud, because I, too, know some of these country people, and Jones's description is perfect. In the last story, "Marie," Jones write that Marie "was eighty-six years old, and had learned that life was all chaos and painful uncertainty and that the only way to get through it was to expect to chaos even in the most innocent of moments. Offer a crust of bread to a sick bird and you often drew back a bloody finger."

Another delightful aspect of the book is that characters don't disappear at the end of a story. The two teenage girls who appear briefly in "The Night Rhonda Ferguson Was Killed," pregnant and moving in together, show up again as adults with 20-year old sons in "His Mother's House." Two other characters in "Rhonda Ferguson" also appear in their own story in "A Butterfly on F Street." There are a few other characters who appear twice, and I believe that several minor characters in this collection will appear in Jones's next short story collection, which should be published this year. (One of the stories was already published in the New Yorker.) I can't wait to read them all.
19 internautes sur 19 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Great Collection by a Gifted Writer 20 juin 2007
Par Jonathan Carr - Publié sur Amazon.com
This collection, first published in 1992, was considered Jones's first literary effort. I find this idea of firsts interesting and would like to look at it briefly before I move on to a few of the craft elements in his stories that I would most like to steal.

This collection of short stories was published a decade before Jones won the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for his novel "The Known World." Some of the stories in the collection were first published in the 1980s in literary magazines like Ploughshares and Callaloo. One of the stories "Marie" also appeared in the Paris Review in 1992. The thing that I find interesting is that these publications do not seem to register with the general public or even reviewers. Instead, his books are presented as sudden, award winning events. Instead of a writing career spanning 25 years of craft and respectable publications, we are presented with the image of a of sudden event, a spectacular storm, a writer whose first novel won the Pulitzer Prize.

In any event, the first thing I did when I opened "Lost in the City" was to read the opening lines of each story. I wanted to see how and where he began his stories. I was thinking of an essay by Debra Spark called "Getting In and Getting Out." The essay appears in "Bringing the Devil to His Knees: The Craft of Fiction and the Writing Life." There is an anecdote in the essay about a friend the author who is screening stories for the Iowa Short Fiction Prize. She says, "If I have to read another story that begins `The alarm clock rang,' I'll shoot myself."

Although I have never started a story with this particular phrase, I do tend to begin a story at the beginning. So as I read through the Jones collection I paid particular attention to the places he began his stories.

In "The Girl Who Raised Pigeons," Jones begins the narrative at some undefined future moment when the crisis of the story has already forced the characters' world to change. "Her father would say years later that she had dreamed that part of it, that she had never gone through the kitchen window...." The story never travels completely forward into the world from which these first lines are described. However, the story does end with a certain inevitability--a sort of narrative arc that points forward so that we understand how the characters arrive to the point we find them in the opening of the story.

"The Girl Who Raised Pigeons" covers a lot of ground in twenty-five pages. It outlines the decay of a Black, D.C. neighborhood and shows us how that decay affects the community. On one level it is a story about a father's coming to fatherhood as well as his young daughter's coming of age. It is about the place and the power of the natural world even in the urban environment. It is about an urban Black community on the edge of change.

The narrative is carried along by the story of the young girl and her pigeons. The story is usually told through a close third person narrator; however, the point of view does shift at times from the young girl, Betsy Ann Morgan, to other characters. These shifts offer insight into the community in which Betsy and her father live. But these shifts seldom last for more than a line or two and then quickly move back to Betsy.

I paid close attention to these shifts in point of view. But before I discuss them I would like to think a bit more about where these stories begin.

Another story that begins post-crisis is "The First Day." The story opens with the line: "On an otherwise unremarkable September morning, long before I learned to be ashamed of my mother, she takes my hand and..." This is the story about a child's first day of school. The story is short, only 5 pages, but it has taken a common event, a child's first day of school, and uses it to point out the divisions between social classes in the Black community. One of the interesting things about this story is that it is told in the first person. The protagonist never reaches the crisis described in the first line within the span of the story. The narrator shows nothing but love and admiration for her mother throughout the course of the story. We are lead by that single clause, "long before I learned to be ashamed of my mother," and the trajectory of the story to understand that the protagonists shame is inevitable.

I find it fascinating that he entire story hinges on this single clause. We never see a hint of shame in the narrator aside from her opening line. If that clause were deleted we would not necessarily know that the narrator would ever come to be ashamed of her mother. But knowing this first line and following the trajectory of the story we know that the crisis and the change are inevitable.

Jones also opens his stories from the middle. The narrator then takes the story back to that middle before moving farther forward. He does this in the story "A New Man."

"A New Man" begins with the lines, "One day in late October, Woodrow L. Cunningham came home early with his bad heart and found his daughter with two boys." The narrative eventually makes its way back to explain exactly how Woodrow came to find his daughter with two boys, but it does not stop there. The narrative continues. It carries the story farther. We come to understand exactly what this event means in the life of Woodrow and how it comes to define his essential character.

Now, rather than continue with this idea of how or where Jones begins his stories, I would like to move on to two other divices Jones uses: point of view, and the idea of epiphany and change within a character.

As I mentioned earlier, Jones does not shy away from changing the narrative point of view if it serves the story. But the places where he shifts point of view seem to be dependent on a few things. He only ever shifts in a third person narrative. The point of view never shifts for more than three or four sentences. The point of view only shifts in stories that are 20 pages in length or longer. He always quickly brings the point of view back to its original place.

It is the brevity in the shift that I find most interesting. It is like one of those little flashes of insight that Woolf wrote about--matches struck unexpectedly in the dark--or the mirror in Joyce's "The Dead." The shift lets us see for a moment how the character looks within their world. For example the title story of the collection, "Lost in the City," is told by a close third person narrator. However, there are two moments in the story where the focus shifts from the protagonist, Lydia Walsh, to her taxi driver. The first shift occurs about two thirds through the story: "He thought that maybe she had been born elsewhere, that she did not know Washington, would not know the streets beyond what the white people called the federal enclave." This shift in point of view ends quickly. The narrator brings our focus back to Lydia. "But in fact, the farther north he went, the more she knew about where they were going."

At the end of "Lost in the City," the point of view again shifts for a moment. "The cab driver thought that her crying meant that maybe it had finally hit her that her mother had died and that soon his passenger would be coming to herself."

I suspect that it is the brevity of these shifts that make them work. Another aspect of these shifts is the fact that they are subtly revealing--not deeply or overtly revealing--and they are always revealing something in the protagonist. These shifts in point of view seem to stress the importance of community in these stories. They show, however briefly, that these characters do not live in isolation, that on some level they are always aware of themselves within the context of others--or perhaps it is that we should always be aware of them within the context of a greater community.

The final aspect of this collection of stories that I would like to look at relates to an issue raised in an essay by Jim Shepard titled, "I Know Myself Real Well. That's the Problem." In this essay, Shepard criticizes the tendency for novice fiction to create characters who are "whooshing along the conveyor belts" of narrative toward some kind of epiphany. Given that my stories have this tendency, I am curious how Jones creates a sense of movement and revelation without allowing his characters to fall into that whooshing conveyor belt.

One way that Jones avoids this narrative conveyor belt is by beginning the story someplace other than the beginning and ending the story in a place that points to the inevitability of change or crisis, but he does not necessarily show us that change or crisis. This can also be seen in the story, "The First Day." We do not experience the moment when the narrator becomes ashamed of her mother. We are told in the opening line that the narrator will indeed one day be ashamed of her mother. We are lift at the end of the story with the inevitability that, despite the strength and character of the mother, the child will one day become as ashamed of her as other members of the community.

Often in this collection of stories the narrator is not even aware of his or her change. The reader senses that something is in fact permanently altered, but it is difficult to say exactly what that thing is. At the close of the story "My Mother's House," we do not find the protagonist, a mother whose biological son has just murdered by her godson over a dispute involving drugs and money, in the throws of some sort of epiphany.

Her husband, who is not the father of either child, works as a bodyguard for her biological son. Her husband skulks away from the scene of the crime, leaving her in the street to comfort her dieing godson. She has always known that her husband was a weak man. At the close of this story we find the protagonist drinking a fifth of vodka and walking from room to room in the house her drug-dealing son purchased for her. She unlocks all the doors and windows, "for Santiago (her son) had no key to her house. And outside that house there was a very cruel would and she did not like to think that her child was out there without a place to come to."

The protagonist knows throughout the story that the world is indeed cruel. The cruelty is not a revelation. Nor does she necessarily seem poised to make some sort of change. In fact, she opens her house in a rough neighborhood so that her son, who has just murdered her godson and pointed a gun at her face, may come into the house for comfort.

Perhaps the real change at the end of this story takes place in the reader. After we have experienced this world, we can never view these characters or their world in the same light--we will never be able to read this story in the same way again.

In the end, there are still many more aspects of this collection that will occupy me throughout the coming months. I have marked my copy of the book with many notes. I find myself referring back to them often.
10 internautes sur 11 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Extraordinary 2 avril 2006
Par Martha B. Spencer - Publié sur Amazon.com
Jones is a very gifted writer; his characters are so believable and real. These are not the happiest of stories, but the quality of his writing is extraordinary. The two stories that stood out for me were "Orange Line to Ballston" and "Marie." Marie is an elderly woman who has outlived three husbands and must deal with the indignity of going for interviews at the Social Security office to be sitting there for hours on end long past the time for her appointment and treated as if she were invisible. Poignant and beautiful portrait of old age.
11 internautes sur 13 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 He is a master craftsmen 18 mai 2006
Par The Wind - Publié sur Amazon.com
This is one of the best books and best short story collections I have ever read. Jones is so in command of his craft, it is eerie. He is like Iceman in Top Gun, he simply doesn't make false moves or mistakes. He is always in control. He writes in a spare prose but will then sneak up with beautiful imagery and word play. I am an avid reader and so I am even more impressed by this collection. The range of characters ages is wonderful, the sequencing is brilliant, and all the stories were strong, a rarity.
5 internautes sur 5 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 One of the best short story collections I've read. 26 décembre 2007
Par Dave Schwinghammer - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
Edward P. Jones's stories about Washington D.C. are unconventional in that some don't have endings. Often they just come to a stop. You are forced to reflect back on what you just read.

Some are better than others. "The First Day" is about an illiterate mother taking her daughter to register for kindergarten. She has to pay another woman to fill out the registration papers for her. If that one doesn't get to you, you don't have a heart.

Many of the other stories are quite long, some as many as thirty pages. My favorite was "The Store," about a boy who takes a "make work" job at a neighborhood grocery and ends up managing the place. The store becomes more important than his personal life and he loses a woman he loved because of it. "Young Lions" is about a violent young man who doesn't hesitate to shoot a clerk during a hold-up. In the end, his violent lifestyle impinges on his personal life, and he starts slapping around the woman he really loves.

Washington D.C. is definitely a character in the stories. The streets are Alphabetical and the Avenues are named after states, but this the Washington of the sixties and deterioration is only just beginning to envelope the black section of town. There are stories about how involvement in drugs debases the characters and their family members. There are stories about characters who emigrated from the South. I can't think of one that didn't touch me in some way, and that doesn't usually happen in a collection of short stories.

Edward P. Jones should be a better known author than he is.
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