Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Cultural Geo-Tagging Edward P. Jones’s Short Stories

By Kenton Rambsy

Edward P. Jones, who covers neighborhoods that are largely occupied by Black people in the nation’s capital, charts Washington, DC’s cultural geography. Through cultural geo-gagging, readers can appreciate how Jones uses DC preserves and extends the tradition of geography in African American short stories.

In his stories, Jones incorporates references to more than 250 landmarks and residences. He documents streets and travel as numerous pedestrian characters navigate the city. The abundance of place references in his stories is quite extraordinary.

The varied settings inform the story’s plot as Jones shows characters interacting with the physical terrain of the District. Whether a person walks, takes a taxi or train, or drives a car, Jones is especially attuned to navigation, demonstrating how the movements of characters in environments facilitate their experiences.

Geographic descriptions are integral to Jones’s portrayals of homegrown characters. Where his characters live, travel, and spend leisure time is linked to their depictions. Jones’s identifying several DC-specific settings in a single story signals his interest in the geographies of his city.

This entry is part of a series--A Notebook on The Geographies of African American Short Stories.

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