Academic journal article Notes on Contemporary Literature

'Most Lost' in Edward P. Jones's "Lost in the City"

Academic journal article Notes on Contemporary Literature

'Most Lost' in Edward P. Jones's "Lost in the City"

Article excerpt

The title story in Edward P. Jones's PEN/Hemingway award-winning collection, Lost in the City [NY: HarperCollins, 1992], is the only one with an upper-middle-class protagonist. Lydia Walsh, an African-American Yale Law graduate, is ensconced in a Washington, D.C. gated townhouse community where she will "Soon ... pass a point in her life" of earning more money "than all her ancestors put together, all of them, all the way back to Eve" (148). Herein lies the irony of Lydia's upscale lifestyle because she is a fallen Eve trapped in the garden of cocaine.

Awakened in the middle of the night by a hospital phone call apprising her of her mother's death, Lydia has to thumb through an appointment book to recall the name of the naked 'Adam' in the bed beside her. Jack Lawrence, a Harvard Law grad, is an affluent banker who sleepily calls 'Eve' by the mistaken name of Cynthia. Pepped up by a line of cocaine, Lydia showers before calling a cab to take her to the hospital. In the haze of coke and hot water, she mutters, "Forgive me, Father, for I have been fucking" (144), one of a number of hastily recalled religious references in Lydia's one-night story. Her irreverent line echoes the formulaic one uttered at the beginning of the sacrament of Penance: 'Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned.'

Just before her shower, Lydia recalls the Holy Land trip she gave to her mother for her 65th birthday. They visited the Church of Gethsemane and, in another unconscious echo of Christ's Resurrection, Lydia recalls that "On the third day" they walked the Via Dolorosa. Lydia is on a path of sorrow to the Golgotha of drug addiction from which salvation seems impossible because she inhales three more lines before catching a cab and, just before the cab arrives at her townhouse, she has a "shorty shorty" while thinking: "All of this and more I offer to you if you would but bow down and worship me . …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.