And we end with Marie, a story about an 86-year-old woman dealing with bureaucracy, the death of an acquaintance and her own memories. Several of these stories are slices of life: they feature situations interesting situations that are worth writing about but not plots. The other woman initiates a polite conversation, and the story ends with the protagonist standing alone in the median, overwhelmed by emotion. Rounding up to 4 stars because I am interested in reading Joness other short story collection, and not only to see if the endings improve!
Id read The Known World back when it came out, but I dont think Id developed the teeth necessary to really chew on and digest that book; as a result All Aunt Hagars Children and Lost in the City languished in unread-book-land for years. Synopsis: Its a book of short stories, and its easy to see where Junot Diaz got his inspiration for Drown and This Is How You Lose Her Losts characters are connected to characters in All Aunt Hagars children, and are sometimes connected with stories in the same collection as well. Read this if you: like DC, want to understand what the city was like for black folks before 2000, like Toni Morrison, like books with depth.
Each of these stories take place in Washington, D.C., that other Washington, D.C. Every character is black, each has roots in the south, either by birth or one generation removed, and each has been in D.C. for the majority or the entirety of their lives. It's an odd thing how few of these characters rebel, they live and breath this world as if there is no other. I'm hard pressed to place what it is that makes these stories work.
Because I feel as if another fascinating 250 pages exists for each of these stories.
This book feels like a gift to Native Washingtonians. I'm excited to read his third book and short story collection, All Aunt Hagar's Children, which was published 15 years after Lost in the City.
It's a hard life for the young and old living in DC, especially when you are struggling through spiritual and financial needs. It is still hard, especially living in DC, with the most expensive housing around and not enough jobs. I also strived the good-life-dream, but it was damn hard then and it just got harder.
The original street layout of our national capital was designed by Pierre Charles LEnfant, a Freemason like many of the founding fathers, and the briefest glance at a city map reveals a number of possibly cultic symbolic interpretations, but such a reductive stance is not the intent of these stories; the author never makes mention of the more mysterious aspects of Washingtons urban design outside of its impact on the lives of his charactersthe ways these streets provide the larger framework for tangential interaction. For instance, characters in The Store, Lost in the City, and Marie use the streets to retrace the pathways of their lives and memories of the city. Of course, there is more at play than the significance of streets and geometry in Lost in the City. For a collection of stories about city life, more than half of the action takes place outside on the streets and, by extension, is under the influence of the city environment more so than some sort of controlled indoor atmosphere. There are the bigger questions of the citys changing racial identity and familiar ties to the south, which often underscore the characters various perspectives, but even these play out into the streets as we find the advent of MLK and Malcolm X on streets and place names.
From the opening story, The Girl Who Raised Pigeons, to the title story, Lost in the City, to, finally, the last piece, Marie, you will marvel at the authors ability to suck you into his characters world and to develop them to such an extent that you feel that you know them, even in these short story forms.
Other stand-outs were The Sunday Following Mothers Day, in which a father tries to make up for being absent in prison while his children were growing up; Gospel, about a group of elderly gospel singers reeling from inevitable life changes; A Dark Night, something of a horror story in which elderly women meeting for prayer end up telling tales of stormy nights from their past; and Marie, about an old woman who gets so fed up with the Social Security Administration that she ends up doing something that doesnt line up with her upbringing, as captured by a folklore student.
It is an amazing collection of stories centered around ordinary black people in DC. showing that ordinary people can be the stuff of extraordinary writing. What James Joyce did for middle class dubliners in his series of short stores, the Dubliners, Jones has done for poor and working class blacks in DC in this book.