From “The First Day”:
“When in answer to her question, my mother tells her that we live at 1227 New Jersey Avenue, the woman first seems to be picturing in her head where we live.”
When author Edward P. Jones writes about the places in Lost in the City, a collection of short stories, one does try to picture in your head where the characters live.
In “The Night Rhonda Ferguson Was Killed,” the main character Cassandra drives her friends all over the city and takes a trip out to Anacostia. Before crossing the river Cassandra and her crew do stop in Shaw.
“The birds in their trees continued to make a racket as they turned off 11th on to P Street. Just before 9th, they passes a group moving boxes and furniture into an apartment building across from Shiloh Baptist.
At the light at 9th, Gladys, looking back, asked if Cassandra could back up. “I think thas [sic] Joyce and Pearl,” she said.”
Joyce reappears in “His Mother’s House” which is somewhere near the intersection of 10th and O Streets.
“”Come back here!” The woman was nearing O Street. “Sweet Jesus,” Joyce said to herself. Had she not been in her bathrobe she would have run after the woman…”
There are stories like the “First Day” where exact addresses are given. In the title story “Lost in the City” there is an apartment at 457 Ridge Street. A husband kills his wife at 427 M Street in “The Sunday Following Mother’s Day.” Most other times intersections, “The Store” located at the corner of 5th and O. Finding a parking spot at 10th and S Street in “Gospel.” And there are landmarks, in “Lost In The City” the main character has the cab go up New Jersey Ave. then turns right on Rhode Island and notes passing by Frazier’s Funeral Home. In “Gospel” the singing group decides to stop over at the Florida Avenue Grill.
Jones, as you can tell makes great use of geography. Place matters.
From “The Store”:
“The next week I took the G2 bus all the way down P Street, crossing 16th Street into the land of white people…..Sometimes, blocks before my stop on my way home from Georgetown in the evening, I would get off the G2 at 5th Street. I would walk up to O and sit on the low stone wall of the apartment building across the street from what had been Al’s and Penny’s Groceries.”