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Lost in the City

4.05  ·  Rating Details ·  1,924 Ratings  ·  215 Reviews
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 ...more
Paperback, 268 pages
Published December 1st 2004 by Amistad Press (first published 1992)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Terryn
Dec 05, 2012 Terryn rated it it was amazing
Pulitzer-and-numerous-other-literary-prize winner Edward P. Jones’ “Lost in the City” was one of the books that had been chilling on my bookcase for a while before I cracked it open, and I’m glad I had the opportunity to grow a bit before digging into it. I got the first nudge from Junot Diaz at the National Book Festival, when he listed Jones as one of his influences. I’d read “The Known World” back when it came out, but I don’t think I’d developed the teeth necessary to really chew on and ...more
Shannon
Dec 06, 2015 Shannon rated it really liked it
This book feels like a gift to Native Washingtonians. As I read, I envisioned the neighborhoods and how different they are now. Today I often hear the natives speak about gentrification. And then there's the recent news that Washington, DC is no longer "Chocolate City." It's obvious to me when Jones writes about certain parts of the city that even if the buildings look the same, the people don't.

The stories seem so matter of fact - authentic. They're not flashy or dramatized. It's like it could
...more
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
This is a well-written collection, comprised of 14 stories about the lives of African-American characters living in Washington, D.C. I read it in large part because several years ago I was extremely impressed with Jones’s novel, The Known World. This was the author’s first book and though imperfect, it also shows a strong literary style.

These stories follow the lives of ordinary people, though there is a pervasive sense of loss, and domestic violence and tragedy are common occurrences. Though th
...more
Ben
Mar 13, 2010 Ben rated it really liked it
If Edward P. Jones were asked to suggest an epigraph for Lost in the City, I imagine he would give serious thought to the inscription over the door to Plato’s Academy: “Let no one enter here who is ignorant of geometry.” Much is made of the streets of Washington D.C. both within these stories and within the province of conspiracy theorists. The original street layout of our national capital was designed by Pierre Charles L’Enfant, a Freemason like many of the founding fathers, and the briefest ...more
VaLinda Miller
Apr 12, 2012 VaLinda Miller rated it it was amazing
As someone who was born and raised in Washington, DC, I could not get enough of this book.  It reminded me so much of my life living on East Capital street in N.E., DC. The DC Stadium, Anacostia, H.D. Woodson, and Spingard high schools.  The DGS grocery store where I would walk to and buy every day items for my grandmother and me.  My first bus trip with my grandmother, who got up real early, took a long bath, sprayed “Secret” deodorant and baby power all over her then get me ready by making me ...more
Bap
Nov 01, 2009 Bap rated it it was amazing
Shelves: short-stories
This was Edward P. Jones first book. 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. These are not stories with a suprise ending or a message. Rather they are a slice of life with people who you might be sitting next to on the bus. Jones is not judgmental. They are all gods creatures, they are in one way or another lost in the city.

I know Edward if only slightly and he is an unassuming guy
...more
Bill
Jun 22, 2009 Bill rated it it was amazing
Lost in the city is an apt and appropriate title for these 14 short stories. All take place in the African-American sections of Washington DC and all of the characters are black.

The first story, The Girl Who Raised Pigeons, demonstrates that the characters are real and that they have the same feelings of love and self that whites have. Betsy Ann is eight when she first sees pigeons being raised by a barber friend of her father. It is love at first sight. Over the years she bothers her father for
...more
Jason
Jul 23, 2007 Jason rated it really liked it
While many American cultural treasures rest on walls, under glass, or in archives in stodgy institutions in the nation's capital, Washington, D.C. is rarely thought of as a place that inspires and brings life to original works of art that speak of the District as a "real" city where "real" people live. It is certainly not, for instance, New York, San Francisco, or Los Angeles, as a beacon of American culture.

When a work comes along, however, that brings something uniquely "of the District" to li
...more
Clara
Jan 07, 2011 Clara rated it did not like it
UGH! Is there some rule that says that all sort stories must: 1) have some kind of plot twist or surprise, and 2) the surprise must be depressing?

I mean, really? This collection opens with a story about a girl who raises pigeons. It ends with all the pigeons except two being killed by rats (sort of poetically ironic, considering that pigeons are flying rats). The two remaining pigeons escape and stare at the girl from across the way, refusing to come home since they are their compatriots were b
...more
Roger DeBlanck
Oct 26, 2016 Roger DeBlanck rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Edward P. Jones’s first book Lost in the City is a collection of short stories that take place in settings around Jones's hometown of Washington D.C. The force of the collection is the depth to which he explores his characters. Through the use of simple language, Jones’s captivating style holds readers attention as he takes on topics that are disturbing, sad, and raw. Whether dealing with loss, crime, or wrongdoing, these stories do not pass judgment. In fact, a dominating theme comes through in ...more
Mikki
Apr 03, 2011 Mikki rated it liked it
Shelves: short-stories

"On an otherwise unremarkable September morning, long before I learned to be ashamed of my mother, she takes my hand and we set off down New Jersey Avenue to begin my very first day of school."

So begins The First Day, one of the fourteen character driven short stories drawn from Edward P. Jones' award winning book, "Lost in the City." It is the story of an illiterate mother who sacrifices pride and seeks help from a stranger in order to get her young daughter enrolled in school and it is also
...more
Jack Bullion
Mar 16, 2010 Jack Bullion rated it liked it
Shelves: listened-to, 2010
I resisted this collection for a long time, partly because I didn't particularly enjoy The Known World and its plodding, deliberate prose style, which I mistook for something much more simplistic than it actually was. Since then I've become a much more patient reader, more capable of giving a writer like Jones my full attention. Which is good, considering that beneath Jones' rather plainspoken approach are narrative structures every bit as knotty as Alice Munro's. Jones' sentences span lifetimes ...more
Leslie
Aug 13, 2012 Leslie rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent book of short stories centered on life in Washington, DC in the second half of the 20th century. Jones' diverse range of characters is his biggest strength - his stories center on men and women; children, teenagers, adults and the very old; educated government workers, drug dealers, auto mechanics; folks from the rural South and city folks who look down on them; rich people and poor people. The characters are often morally ambiguous, and are written with humanity, ...more
Brett
Dec 05, 2013 Brett rated it really liked it
Shelves: washington-dc
Jones describes his characters with a rich realism that makes the short stories enjoyable, even if their tone is not always upbeat. I especially got into "The Store," one of the longer stories with some character development, however the snippets of life described in "The Night Rhonda Ferguson Was Killed," "Marie," and "An Orange Line Train to Ballston" were also highlights for me. Being a metro-rider, the last of those was especially true-to-life - the woman scalding her children to sit facing ...more
Patrick Faller
Feb 10, 2008 Patrick Faller rated it really liked it
I bought this book on a whim when I came across a cheap copy at a Book Warehouse. So glad I did; The narrative ebb, the weight and flesh Jones gives to sprawling, temporally layered stories cut me to the core. "A New Man" and "The Sunday Following Mother's Day" both emerged from a patient tone, a matter-of-fact voice; Jones lets the stories speak for themselves, laying and layering detail upon detail until the implication and emotion resound. Some of the stories are extraneous, such excess ...more
Anne Sanow
Aug 19, 2009 Anne Sanow rated it liked it
This is Jones's first book, and in it you can glimpse the careful, direct manner of character development and fully realized world (in this case, Washington D.C.) that were put to such masterful use in "The Known World." These are all wonderful stories; some of them surprise you with their shifts (Jones deftly avoids any judgement), while others don't gain as much traction. Nothing negative to say--I just think that his later stories are more hard-hitting, and I'm so blown away by the novel (see ...more
Washington Post
Jul 09, 2013 Washington Post rated it it was amazing
Overlooked neighborhoods in the nation’s capital are the settings for these powerful short stories.

“She came to know the city so well that had she been blindfolded and taken to practically any place in Washington, even as far away as Anacostia or Georgetown, she could have taken off the blindfold and walked home without a moment’s trouble. Her favorite place became the library park at Mount Vernon Square, the same park where Miss Jenny had first seen Robert and Clara together, across the street
...more
Matt
Feb 09, 2010 Matt rated it really liked it
I'm not generally a short stories reader, but this is a fantastic collection, especially if you're a native or resident of DC. All 14 stories take place in historically African American neighborhoods of the District in the second half of the 20th century. They are all stories of struggle, told through patient and poignant vignettes of a whole cast of characters and the communities they are a part of.

While all worth reading, my favorites are:
The Girl Who Raised Pigeons
The Night Rhonda Ferguson W
...more
Topher
Jul 21, 2008 Topher rated it really liked it
Its weird reading stories about the town in which you live. This is one of the greatest living writers in America, and we have him in DC. This elegaic examination of life in DC is by parts harsh, lonely, and violent but it also produces the bittersweet epiphanies that makes each of us human. While it has been cited as an homage to Joyce's Dubliners, I also sense traces of another American short story master Raymond Carver. There is, they both seem to cry out, beauty somewhere in all that misery, ...more
The Awdude
Nov 19, 2009 The Awdude rated it it was amazing
These stories are just about as good as contemporary short fiction gets. Jones loves and explores his displaced tragic characters with an unparalleled depth of feeling. It's a breath of fresh air to read a narrative that doesn't completely detach itself from its characters like much of today's postmodern literature. His plots keep you thoroughly engaged because he never interrupts them with thematic heavy-handedness. His stories by themselves speak about the human condition in ways that, if you ...more
Kate
Oct 15, 2008 Kate rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Kate by: Ben W
These stories about working class, black DC are so beautiful and painful. I can't figure out his trick in this collection. There are no obvious hooks, often little to nothing "happens," and the sentences, while eerily perfect, don't call attention to themselves. Yet I kept gasping, or choking up, or putting a hand over my heart and saying "oh my god"... read these. This guy is one of the most exciting American authors of our time.
Taylor
Jun 23, 2013 Taylor rated it it was amazing
Shelves: african-american
I've never really been a fan of reading short stories, but I decided to give this a try and thank goodness that I did.

Each of these stories will pull at a heart string. After completing each story I had to take a break just to think about what I just read. This collection was just absolutely breathtaking and I was overwhelmed by each individual story.
Edward P. Jones is amazing and I cannot wait to read one of his novels.
Lee
Apr 29, 2008 Lee rated it it was amazing
Oh so excellent. And short stores. You can always read short stories. On the train. In between classes or even with a busy work life.

You know it's an amazing collection when the characters from the stories pop into my head a year or two after the reading--on my way to work, in the subway, etc. as if their life stories somehow got interwoven into my own like people I had met.
Nicholas
Nov 02, 2007 Nicholas rated it it was amazing
Can anyone do the big, sprawling voice better than Edward P. Jones? I'm not sure. But each story in this collection gives you insight into an entire world, not just a few characters getting through a difficult situation like you see in so many other short story writers these days. Definitely read this book, if for no other reason than to observe the progression of a great writer.
Kate Levin
Feb 12, 2008 Kate Levin rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
One of the stories in this book was so good that I almost wished I hadn't read it, because I couldn't get it off my mind. The one called "The Sunday Following Mother's Day." This is one my favorite books.
Andrea
Feb 13, 2016 Andrea rated it really liked it
Excellent collection of short stories, set in DC between the 50s and the 80s. Read because written by the author of the brilliant novel, The Known World. The collection does not disappoint with many great stories about a wide variety of characters.
Pamela
Jul 28, 2007 Pamela rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
I've read these stories--all taking place in various part of and featuring various residents of Washington, D.C.--again and again. Jones is simply one of the greatest story writers around.
emily
Jun 25, 2007 emily rated it really liked it
the blocks i walk each day look different after reading these stories.
Evelyn
Mar 15, 2015 Evelyn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My copy of LOST IN THE CITY is a reprint, opening with a 2012 introduction* by Jones, and if you can, find a copy with this intro (granted, there's a case to be made for reading introductions until you've read the main work). There are many things to love about this essay, which I suspect Jones may have given as a speech...AWP?

Consider this passage:

In my first months at Holy Cross College, I found an inordinate amount of ignorance about the city where I was born and raised, about a place that
...more
Jo
Sep 14, 2015 Jo rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
I say it every time but I love short stories for the way they engage and portray a broad spectrum of humanity. Yes, ‘Lost in the City’ is a microcosm of the African-American experience in Washington DC in the late twentieth century and Edward P. Jones gets to the heart of this with art and skill, yet we can all relate to loss, and fear and the hope that run through these pages.

Everyone in these stories is striving for something better, something more than what they have, whether its education fo
...more
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Lost In the City 1 9 Sep 16, 2009 06:19PM  
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Edward P. Jones has won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, and the Lannan Literary Award for The Known World. He received a MacArthur Fellowship in 2004, and his first collection of short stories, Lost in the City, won the PEN/Hemingway Award and was short-listed for the National Book Award. His most recent collection, All Aun ...more
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