Edward P. Jones, “Old Boys, Old Girls”

Life in jail and outside jail is tough on Caesar.

(from The O. Henry Prize Stories 2006)

Okay, now I’m two stories into the latest O. Henry and I’ve been wowed more with substance than with style. For the most part, “Old Boys, Old Girls” is written rather utilitarianly, executing its task with certainty and poise. It does, occasionally, dabble in poetic language, mostly to describe angst. But mostly it deals in the real: hookers, jail, violence, murder, and such. Real urban trials misdeeds. It’s so winding and gritty and deliberate; I felt like a nicely shot indie film would do the story justice.
Turns out, according to those ending notes, this is the continuation of some of Jones’ older works and characters. I can see why he would want to revisit this world. Makes me want to dig up the older stuff (“Young Lions”/Lost in the City).

(I read this on the Explorer of the Seas)

2 thoughts on “Edward P. Jones, “Old Boys, Old Girls”

  1. Tracy

    I am reading this story for my literature class (the whole of his book All Aunt Hagar’s Children, actually. Anyway, all his stories that I’ve read are like that (utilitarian and very substantial, to use your ideas).

  2. Dina

    I read this story for my class and loved it but many of my peers didn’t find it as appealing as I did. Actually, I really wanted to know more about how Caesar killed the two men because as many of my classmates said, there was really no explanation for it and I agreed on that point. How serendipitous, then, that you’ve found this older work that is kind of like the prequel to this story (we didn’t have that nifty footnote/endnote thing that could tell us this piece was related to the earlier work)! Anyway, thanks for this, I will definitely be checking out “Young Lions” soon.


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