Last night, I saw Edward P. Jones at an ALOUD event across from the Disney Concert Hall in downtown LA. For a man who grew up poor in Washington D.C. with a mother who couldn’t read or write, and yet won literary acclaim later in life, including a MacArthur fellowship and the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for his novel The Known World, he dressed the part: he wore crinkled blue jeans with black socks and dress shoes. On the whole, Novelist Susan Straight did well at using humor and personality to keep the talk interesting, except that she had a few too many cappucinos and on occasion verbally bulldozed the taciturn Jones. Here were some of my favorite quotes from Jones.
On why he makes up stuff rather than using stories people told him:
“I was born with an imagination so I might as well use it. When I’m old and addled, then I’ll steal from other people.”
“I am a pretty pessimistic person.”
On (not) growing up:
“We never get over being children.”
“There are days when I am feeling sad, but if I get in a good two or three pages, the rest of the day is sunshine.”
His latest collection of stories, All Aunt Hagar’s Children (The title came from an old term for black people) was released September 1st.