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fergs has commented on (1) product.

Joe Jones by Anne Lamott
Joe Jones

fergs, January 2, 2007

Joe Jones was thought to be a write-off by critics and ultimately by Anne Lamott herself. In the wake of Blue Shoes and Travelling Mercies and Plan B, and other, later works, Joe Jones sank without a trace. However, a number of people, me included, found in this novel a quirky brilliance that it seemed everyone else overlooked.

It's a "Deep Space Nine" sort of novel, in which a single location is the centre of the narrative's universe. Jessie's Cafe in San Francisco is the novel's geographic focus, but it's character-driven from the get-go.

Despite its title (and it's wrongly-titled, in my view), Joe Jones is not the protagonist of the novel, merely one of a half-dozen memorable characters--protagonists in their own right: Lou, his ex, who clings to her faith like a barnacle; Jessie, the septuagenarian owner; Willie, her gay 20-something dex addict grandson and chief cook; the brittle Georgia, best known for her raspberries (the inedible kind), and the mysterious Eva.

It's about relationship and identity, about coping and not despairing. It's an awkward toddler of a book, but brimming with potential--Lamott decided to have another go at it recently, having heard of Joe Jones fans (maybe a literary equivalent of Deadheads), and having looked it over and seeing some potential she'd missed first time around.

I haven't read the rewritten JJ, but the 1985 original was well worth the trip. Twice around, at that.
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