Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Summaries of Short Stories by Edward P. Jones

By Kenton Rambsy

Edward P. Jones has published two short story collections, Lost in the City (1992) and All Aunt Hagar’s Children (2006) that each contain fourteen stories. Below, I have provided summaries of the stories from both collections.

Lost in the City
“The Girl Who Raised Pigeons” – Betsy Ann and her father, Robert Morgan, recall their life on Myrtle Street. They remember the time she raised pigeons, that she eventually set free.

“The First Day” – The unnamed narrator, a five-year-old girl, tells about her first day of kindergarten. Upon finding that she cannot be admitted to Seaton Elementary School. Her illiterate mother takes her back to attend another school which the girl likes.

“The Night Rhonda Ferguson Was Killed” – Cassandra Lewis, with hopes of accompanying her friend Rhonda in pursuing a musical career, drives some friends to Anacostia. When she returns to her neighborhood, Cassandra receives news that shatters her dreams.

“Young Lions” – As Caesar Matthews plan to con a mentally disabled woman, he remembers the events that led him into the world of crime. He, failing in his endeavor, find himself alone without friends or family.

“The Store” – The young unnamed narrator starts working at Penny Jenkins store. As he grows attached to the store, having a stable job, the owner decides to sell it.

“An Orange Line Train to Ballston” – On her way to work, Marvella Watkins and her three children regularly meet a man with dreadlocks, whom the children get friendly, while she fantasizes about a romantic relationship with him.
“The Sunday Following Mother's Day” – When Madeleine Williams receive an unexpected visit from her father, recently released from prison, she agrees to take him see his disabled grandson.

“Lost in the City” –  Preparing to go to the hospital after news of her mother passing, Lydia Walsh After calls for a cab driver and asks to get her lost in the city as she reflects on where life has taken her.

"His Mother's House" – Joyce Moses moves into her a new home in Northeast DC bought by her drug dealer son Santiago.

“A Butterfly on F Street” – After the death of her husband, Mildred Harper comes face to face with the woman that separated them for the final years of his life.

“Gospel” – A trio of gospel singers traverse the city performing their music in two vastly different settings.

“A New Man” – Rita and The story of how Woodrow and Rita Cunningham gradually grow apart after their daughter runs away from home after a disagreement.

“A Dark Night” – In the midst of a powerful storm, a group of older women gather for a prayer meeting and end up discussing their shared memories of the South.

“Marie” – The elderly Marie Delaveaux Wilson is preparing for her annual pilgrimage to the government benefits office. As the anxiety builds for Marie, she realizes the isolation of age and loss has transformed her into someone she doesn’t entirely recognize.

All Aunt Hagar’s Children
“In the Blink of God's Eye” – Aubrey and Ruth Patterson discover an abandoned baby outside their home in Northwest Washington D.C. Conflicts arise as the couple encounters challenges related to the child and to life as newlyweds.

“Spanish in the Morning” – A bright, unnamed narrator tells her experience starting school at Holy Redeemer in the northwest of the city.

“Resurrecting Methuselah” – Sergeant Percival Channing discovers that he has breast cancer while on assignment in Okinawa. Meanwhile, his wife, Anita Hughes Channing reflects on her life, marriage and parenting practices as she contemplates visisting her husband.

“Old Boys, Old Girls” – The story of Caesar Matthews who finds himself in prison after being convicted of murder and his path to redemption once he is released from prison. “All Aunt Hagar’s Children” The unnamed narrator, who is also Korean War has plans to go to Alaska on a gold expeditions, but first, he is tasked with investigating the murder of a family friend.

“A Poor Guatamalan Dreams of a Downtown in Peru” – The story of Arlene who has witnessed tragic accidents her entire life. Finally, when Arlene is in late adulthood, she has a miracle encounter with Avis, a little girl who could stop the cycle.

“Root Worker” – When Dr. Glynnis Holloway’s her mother is plagued by ailments that cannot be cured with science, she is persuaded to take her mother to a root worker in North Carolina.

“Common Law” – Georgia Evans meets and quickly moves in with Kenyon Morrison, who proves to be a emotionally and physical abusive lover. The community comes together to send Kenyon away and look out for Georgia, ensuring her safety and protection

“Adam Robinson Acquires Grandparents and a Little Sister” – Noah and Maggie Robinson take in their grandson, Adam, who is very shy and untrusting of people. The story focuses on the Noah trying t the fa he begins to settle in with his grandparents and little sister, to see how being with them had been where his true home was all along.

“The Devil Swims Across the Anacostia River” – Laverne Shepherd speaks to the Devil, who has followed the women in her family for as long as she can remember.

“Blindsided” – While on the bus home from work, Roxanne Stapleton suddenly goes blind causing her true character coming to light in the form of her cruelty to her friend Agnes and boyfriend Melvin.

“A Rich Man” – The story follows Horace Perkins and his descent into morally questionable behavior after the death of his wife Loneese.

“Bad Neighbors” – The Benningtons, a large family with several children, move to a new the neighborhood where they are not received well by other, more affluent members of the community.

“Tapestry” – Newly weds, George Carter and Anne Perry, leave rural Mississippi to start their new lives together in Washington, DC.

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

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