Sunday, September 17, 2006

Jonesing for Edward P. Jones + Chomsky's MySpace

(Edward P.) Jonesiania
Edward P. JonesJames Tata features links to Wyatt Mason's praiseworthy Harper's Review review of Pulitzer Prize-winner Edward P. Jones's (right, receiving the 2005 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award) newest collection of stories, All Aunt Hagar's Children, which I just picked up but haven't read; an interview on After the MFA with him concerning the particulars of his career; and Our Girl in Chicago's laudatory appraisal.

A quote from the interview:

I just didn’t have any confidence in anyone, you know — no offense to the people at the ground level of a lot of these literary magazines, but some guy in college or grad school, comes in grumpy and no matter how good your story might be, he might go “well, I don’t want this story,” and just say “no.” And even when I had finished all the stories — you know one or two of these stories had already been published, but everything else was brand new — my agent had sent them out and no one gave a damn. The only magazine that cared to publish, out of all of those stories that had not been published, was the Paris Review.

It was nice because I knew once I did have the agent and he was going to get stuff out there, I knew I would never again, ever send anything out. And I haven’t. And I won’t.

I want to add that last fall, at the 15th Annual Gwendolyn Brooks Writers Conference at Chicago State University, which honored the late Octavia Butler, I had the opportunity to meet for the first time both Edward P. Jones, who struck me as a very gentle, humble, and friendly man, and another writer whose work I think is extraordinary, James Alan McPherson. In fact, it was a pretty remarkable experience; in addition to these two writers, I also delivered brief a brief talk about Butler's work, and got to meet her as well.

Guess who's on MySpace?
I'm not on MySpace, but I've noticed that increasing numbers of people I know are. As was the case with blogging from 2001-2004, while I really enjoyed certain people's blogs (Bernie's, Charles's, one of my students', etc.), I resisted starting one myself. And then, I fell in with the crowd, and here we are. (I still have resisted the trend towards sexpottery....) Nevertheless, my friend Eric H. sent me a link to what I would have considered to be one of the more unlikely pages on Noam Chomsky. It's his, it's official, and I have to say, I like the fact that he's taken this route, which I read as a way of reaching people who might not otherwise know about or come across his political work. (I cannot imagine that many MySpacers will be dipping into those books on linguistics. Two links of his that caught my eye were: Count the Black Vote and Stop the Wars.


  1. Hi J, I stumbled unto you over at My DD. You have a nice site. Keep up the good work my brother. Like Arnold says: "I will be back"


    field-negro @

    Sorry I had to post as anonymous, it's this new bete blogger thing.

  2. My name is Noam -- welcome to my MySpace page -- ROTFL! But on the other hand, I suspect Marshall McLuhan -- and Canadian recluse Glen Gould -- would have taken the same plunge as well.

    I can attest that Edward Jones is in fact a very gentle and decent person -- with a quiet, dry, and sharp sense of humor. I'm beside myself with joy at his well deserved success. And James Alan McPherson! One of the best, most underrated writers around, and one of the FEW reasons I'd want to go to the MFA Factory in Iowa. I once had this *obsession* with his story "Elbow Room," reading it multiple times for about a year or so...that was a while ago -- time to read it again! PS: don't forget his memoir about Baltimore and other things, 'Crabcakes'

  3. fn, thanks for dropping in, and do come back.

    Reggie, I agree that McLuhan would have signed up, and probably others like Warhol, Lacan...I wonder if anyone has told Baudrillard about MySpace yet, or if there's a French version! I haven't read Crabcakes, but like you I had a period of rereading a McPherson story; in my case it was "The Story of a Scar." I think I'll teach that this winter....