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In this episode of Bookend we have a real treat: a conversation with Pulitzer-prize winning author Edward P. Jones, the writer behind the novel "The Known World," and two short story collections "All Aunt Hagar's Children" and "Lost in the City," the book that first put him on the literary map. This month marks the 20th anniversary re-release of that first story collection, and Jones talked with Metro Connection's Jonathan Wilson about what the book means to him now. Following are highlights of the interview.
On what he thinks of his first book now: "The stories in "Lost in the City" are generally the length of typical stories, and I don't think I could ever go back to doing those. I find that I'm more interested in stories that are read like novels, but still are maybe just a few pages longer than the stories in "Lost in the City," which is why you get the stories in "All Aunt Hagar's Children" are a tad longer and they're more complex, and there are many more characters. So I can't see myself doing anything generally like I did in "Lost in the City." I was there and I did my best, and now my brain is in a different place."
On his writing process: "You find, of course, that so many people that wake up in the morning have an idea for a story and they go with it, before they know what the conclusion will be. I don't particularly like asking myself what should come next. That conclusion is like a star in the sky. From the first word, I'm always traveling toward that star in the sky. As I've said it keeps you honest. Because if you don't know where you're going to end up, you're all over the place. But if the star is there, and you're moving toward that, it sort of keeps you on a better path."
On how he knows what will happen next in his stories: "The whole thing is to try to find out the why of it, and to come to some sort of logical and real conclusion. But I'm not in it to cure cancer, so if I never come to the reason why... then the world will survive. But it's a challenge, and in days when you do come up with a conclusion, it's fun."
[Music: "Frost Bit" by Mello Music Group from Odd Seasons / "Lost (Official Instrumental)" by Coldplay from Viva La Vida / Moving On Up" by Roselle from JayNotez ]