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In 14 short stories, Jones, author of the acclaimed novel The Known World 0 (2003), demonstrates his skill at drawing complex and nuanced characters and predicaments. Washington, D.C., is the setting for this collection of stories in assorted time frames with assorted characters, most of whom come from the rural South, and all of whom are coping with the transformation of their lives and their adjustments to a new way of life. A young husband and wife, Aubrey and Ruth, are confounded by the faster pace of a city where babies are abandoned and love cools. A young man, anticipating his last days in D.C. as he dreams of a new life in Alaska (a novel place for a black man), is captivated by a murder investigation he reluctantly agrees to do for a family friend and the last words of an old white woman. He cradled the woman in his arms after she was struck by a streetcar and heard her dying words, spoken in Yiddish, words that haunt him--and threaten his future plans--although he doesn't understand them. Arlene is cursed by her uncanny survival of a lifelong series of tragedies that has taken those around her since childhood. Her sadness and loneliness are briefly broken as she meets kindred spirits in a young girl and a Guatemalan woman. Jones' stories are rich in detail and emotions as he plumbs the intricacies of people's relationships with one another and with spiritual forces at work in urban as well as natural environments. Readers who enjoyed The Known World0 will relish these varied gems of Jones' talent for storytelling. --Vanessa Bush Copyright 2006 Booklist
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Following the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Known World (2003), Jones offers a complex, sometimes somber collection of 14 short stories, four of which have appeared in the New Yorker. As in his previous collection of short fiction, Lost in the City (1992), Jones centers his storytelling on his native Washington, D.C. Here, though, Jones broadens his chronological scope to encompass virtually the entire 20th century and a wide range of experiences and African-American perspectives, from a man who has kept the secret of his adultery for 45 years, to another whose most difficult task on leaving prison for murder is having dinner with his brother's family. Often, Jones presents characters who have been away from the South long enough to mourn the loss of values and connections they traded for the too-often failed promise of urban success, but he also portrays the nation's capital as a place of potential redemption, where small curses and small miracles intertwine, and where shifting communities and connections can literally save one's life. Each of its denizens comes through with his own particular ways and means for survival, often dependent on chance, and rendered with unsentimental sympathy and force: "Caesar flipped the quarter. The girl's heart paused. The man's heart paused. The coin reached its apex and then it fell." (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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Short fiction from National Book Award finalist Jones. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.