Sunday, March 26, 2023

Men in Edward P. Jones’s Short Fiction

By Kenton Rambsy

Edward P. Jones relies heavily on males as supporting characters. In Jones’s two collections, 270 of his characters are male. He presents a drug dealer, a retired mechanic, a bus driver, a homeless man, a moneylender, a drug addict, a taxi driver, and more.

Jones is committed to exploring public spaces in DC. Consequently, he shows men occupying street corners, traveling to and from different neighborhoods, working in downtown and other parts of town, and riding in cars.

Men characters are also more likely to be involved in troublesome activities. For instance, Young Lions” and “Old Boys, Old Girls,” which focus on one protagonist, Caesar Matthews, are particularly important for understanding the remarkable work that Jones does in geo-tagging and tracing the movements of a homegrown Black male character in two stories published over a decade apart.

“Young Lions” and “Old Boys, Old Girls” follow Caesar, a native of DC, as he falls into a life of crime and eventually prison. Together, the stories represent one of the most extended and detailed accounts of an African American male in short fiction. 

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

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