‘The Girl Who Raised Pigeons’ by Edward P. Jones

One of the reasons I love short stories is because they so often replace plot with relationships. This is the story of a relationship between a young girl, Betsy-Ann, and her dad, Robert, in Washington in the late 50s, early 60s. I’ve no idea how Jones manages to get so much into these pages: the social background of the changing neighbourhood; the desolation of a father – 19 years old – finding himself alone with a baby; Betsy Ann’s growing wilfulness; and a coop full of pigeons. There’s no showing off, and yet I found myself gasping several times at the sentences. He takes a zen-like care over each moment, and really earns the sentiments of the soaring final paragraph.

In Lost in the City, William Morrow, 1992

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