So maybe the short story is dead, or maybe it's the hottest thing this season.  But here's a writer who gets the most out of the form and probably doesn't spend a lot of time thinking about the market and his platform.

Jones spent 10 years creating nearly all of his Pulitzer-winning, antebellum-era novel, "The Known World," in his head, until he finally set it all down on paper in a three-month rush in 2001 after being laid off from his job at a tax publication. "The Waiting Room" is still locked up tight in his mind, though he dictates the opening and closing three times in a row, down to the dashes and commas, without so much as blinking.

Here in Washington, dumping on the beleaguered Washington Post seems to be a favorite pastime.  But this profile of Edward Jones is a rare convergence of a subject worthy of profiling, a journalist up to the task of doing it right, and a paper willing to give a good story enough room.



11/19/2009 13:43

Mark - I loved this profile too, sensitive and balanced with new insight into his childhood that I hadn't read anywhere before. But I wonder if the introverted Jones has gone through even more personal growth than what the author describes. A librarian friend of mine who knows Jones took issue with the statement that only a few of Jones's closest friends have seen his sparsely-furnished apartment (which sounds not unlike my dad's). And despite declining the invitation to Bermuda because of a vague fear of cliffs, Jones HAS traveled the world for conferences & book signings. It seems as if this is a story of a man who, even late in life, is pushing his own boundaries.

Mark Trainer
11/19/2009 13:58


I think you're right. I met him briefly after a reading he gave at Goucher. His lack of pretension was amazing, but he hardly seemed to lack for confidence--confidence of the best and quietest kind. He came across as a guy who was going to write his stories no matter what, but was willing to enjoy the opportunities having a wide readership brought. He also was incredibly gracious during the Q&A. If you haven't read any of his stories, you ought to. I haven't read the novel, but look forward to it.


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