Joe Jones

( 3 )

Overview


"If love is details, so is storytelling, and Anne Lamott excels at it. Her way with analogy, metaphor, and evocative detail is subtle; her ability to shift from the specific to the general to the specific again, superb."—The Nation

Joe Jones is Anne Lamott’s raucous novel of lives gathered around Jessie’s Café, "a restaurant from another era, the sort of broken-down waterfront dive one might expect to find in Steinbeck or Saroyan." Jessie, "thin, stooped and gorgeous at seventy-nine," inherited the café years ...

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Overview


"If love is details, so is storytelling, and Anne Lamott excels at it. Her way with analogy, metaphor, and evocative detail is subtle; her ability to shift from the specific to the general to the specific again, superb."—The Nation

Joe Jones is Anne Lamott’s raucous novel of lives gathered around Jessie’s Café, "a restaurant from another era, the sort of broken-down waterfront dive one might expect to find in Steinbeck or Saroyan." Jessie, "thin, stooped and gorgeous at seventy-nine," inherited the café years before and it has become home to a remarkable family of characters: Louise, the cook and vortex, "sexy and sweet, somewhere on the cusp between curvaceous and fat"; Joe, devoted and unfaithful; Willie, Jessie’s gay grandson, ("I thought he just had good posture," said Jessie); Georgia, an empress dowager who never speaks; and a dozen others all living together in the sweet everyday. Lamott’s rich and timeless themes are also here: love and loyalty, loss and recovery, staying on and staying together, the power of humor to heal and to bind.

Centered around a group of eccentric characters who congregate in Jessie's Cafe, this is a story of loss, recovery, and the humor that heals.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Lamott has written before about copingwith death in Hard Laughter , with life in Rosie. But Joe Jones is about nothing else; coping seems to fill the hearts and minds of the characters at Jessie's Cafe, and it certainly dominates their epigrammatic, italic-studded conversation. Not that theirs isn't a lot to cope with. Louise, cook and philosophical earth mother, pines for Joe, the faithless lover she sent away, and he, a hypochondriacal drifter, longs for her. Willie, Jessie's gay grandson, loses a lover to a distant job and his grandmother to heart failure. And those are only their current trials. Lamott's spare prose can sing, but here it too often sounds forced. ``Life is hard and then you die,'' as these characters note more than once, is too trendy and insubstantial a framework for the fine work Lamott can do. Michele Leber, Fairfax Cty. P.L., Va.
Library Journal
Jessie's Caf , a tired waterfront restaurant, provides the focus of this latest Lamott novel. Jessie inherited the caf years ago and at 79 visits daily, chattering away to her mute friend Georgia. Life is hard for the frequenters of Jessie's, and their attempts to cope form the story line. Louise, the cook and mother figure, misses Joe, her faithless former lover whom she threw out, and he still pines for her. Willie, Jessie's gay grandson, tries to stay away from drugs after his lover takes a job in a distant city. Then Louise meets Eve and invites her to the caf . Alone and suffering from a terminal illness, maybe AIDS, Eve joins the "Caf family," bringing a quiet dignity as she copes with her failing health. Lamott's characteristic humor shines through the pain. Although this book lacks the more defined plot of Lamott's earlier works (Blue Shoe and Rosie), listeners will enjoy the warmth, love, and compassion these imperfect people display. Barbara Rosenblatt, one of the most accomplished audiobook narrators around, reads with clarity, making each character distinctive. Recommended for large public libraries.--Nancy R. Ives, SUNY at Geneseo Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781593760038
  • Publisher: Counterpoint Press
  • Publication date: 9/28/2003
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 508,886
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Anne Lamott

Multiple Audie® Award winner Barbara Rosenblat has been named a "Voice of the Twentieth Century" by AudioFile magazine. The New York Times writes,"Watch Ms. Rosenblat work...and you get the sense that even an Oscar winner might not be able to pull this off." She created the role of "Mrs. Medlock" in the Tony® Award-winning Broadway musical The Secret Garden.

ANNE LAMOTT is the best-selling author of Operating Instructions, Bird by Bird, and Blude Shoe. She lives in Northern California with her son, Sam.

Biography

Anne Lamott's recovery from alcoholism and drug abuse helped her career in two ways. First, it marked an artistic rebound for the novelist; second, she's become an inspirational figure to fans who have read her frank, funny nonfiction books covering topics from motherhood to religion to, yes, fighting for sobriety.

Early on, Lamott's hard-luck novels were impressive chronicles of family strife punctuated by bad (but often entertaining) behavior. Everyone in Lamott's books is sort of screwed up, but she stocks them with a humor and core decency that make them hard to resist. In Hard Laughter, she tells the (semi-autobiographical) story of a dysfunctional family rocked by the father's brain tumor diagnosis. In Rosie and its 1997 sequel, Crooked Little Heart, the heroines are a sassy teenage girl and her alcoholic, widowed mom. Another precocious child provides the point of view in All New People, in which a girl rides out the waves of the 1960s with her nutty parents.

Lamott's conversational, direct style and cynical humor have always been strengths, and with All New People -- the first book she wrote after getting sober -- she turned a corner. Reedeming herself from the disastrous reviews of her messy (too much so, even for the endearingly messy Lamott) 1985 third novel Joe Jones, Lamott's talent came back into focus. "Anne Lamott is a cause for celebrations," the New Yorker effused. "[Her] real genius lies in capturing the ineffable, describing not perfect moments, but imperfect ones...perfectly. She is nothing short of miraculous."

That said, Lamott's sensibility is not for everyone. The faith, both human and spiritual, in her books is accompanied by her unsparing irony and a distinct disregard for wholesomeness or conventionality; and God here is for sinners as much as (if not more than) for saints. Her girls are often not girls but half-adults; her adults, vice-versa. She finds the adolescent, weak spots in all her characters, making them people to root for at the same time.

Among Lamott's most messy, troubled characters is the author herself, and she began turning this to her advantage with the 1993 memoir Operating Instructions, a single mom's meditation on the big experiment -- failures included -- of new parenthood. It was also in this book that Lamott "came out of the closet" with her Christianity, and earned a whole new following that grew with her subsequent memoirs, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life and Traveling Mercies. However gifted Lamott was at conveying fictional stories, it was in telling her own stories that her self-deprecating humor and hard-earned wisdom really made themselves known, and loved by readers.

Good To Know

Lamott's Joe Jones, which is now out of print, was so poorly received that it sent the alcoholic Lamott into a tailspin. "When Joe Jones came out I really got trashed," she told the New York Times in 1997. "I got 27 bad reviews. It was kind of exhilarating in its way. I was still drinking and I woke up every morning feeling so sick, I literally felt I was pinned to the bed by centrifugal force. I wouldn't have very many memories of what had happened the night before. I'd have to call around, and I could tell by people's reaction whether I'd pulled it off or not. I was really humiliating myself. It was bad."

Lamott's father was a writer who instilled the belief in her that it was a privilege in life to be an artist, as opposed to having a regular job. But she stresses to students that it doesn't happen overnight; that the work has to be measured in small steps, with continual efforts to improve. She said in an NPR interivew, "I've published six books and I still worry that the phone is going to ring and [someone] is going to say, 'Okay, the jig is up, you have to get a job..."'

In an essay accompanying Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith, Lamott described her decision to begin writing in earnest about Christianity: "Thirteen years ago, I first lurched -- very hung over -- into a little church in one of the poorest communities in California. Without this church, I do not think I would have survived the last few years of my drinking. But even so, I had written about the people there only in passing. I did, however, speak about the church whenever I could, sheepishly shoehorning in a story or two. But it wasn't really until my fifth book [Operating Instructions], that I came out of the closet as a real believer.... I started to realize that there was a great hunger and thirst for regular, cynical, ragbag people to talk about God..."

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    1. Hometown:
      Fairfax, California
    1. Date of Birth:
      November 30, 1953
    2. Place of Birth:
      San Francisco, California
    1. Education:
      Attended Goucher College in Maryland before dropping out to write

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 15, 2010

    One of my Favorites

    Anne Lamott's talent for drawing her characters so completely leaves the reader feeling that these are people we know in our own lives.Set in a restaurant in California, the diner itself is a character as well as the eclectic group of customers who are more like family to one another.The relationships are the story. At the end of the book, I wanted to visit them again just as I would any friend.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 9, 2009

    Wonderful Writing

    This book is at times, laugh-out-loud funny, poignant, hopefull and uplifting. Anne Lamott's character development and descriptive writing are absolutelly wonderful. In your minds eye, you can clearly visualize each character, see the cafe, view the boats out on San Fransico bay and even smell the salt air! Joe Jones is only one of several characters, but not the main one. He seems at times almost to be a background player, which leaves me intrigued by the book's title. I truly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone. It's not going to change your life, but it will leave you feeling good. It's like a snap-shot of a group of folks, who's lives revolve around a little rundown cafe, overlooking the water. When you've finished reading, you'll put the book down and feel like you've had a brief vacation at the shore.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 13, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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