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July 18, 1993|CHARLES SOLOMON

LOST IN THE CITY by Edward P. Jones (HarperPerennial: $10; 250 pp.). The vivid short stories of Edward Jones illuminate the lives of African-Americans who inhabit the often mean streets of Washington, D.C. The characters in "Young Lions" and "His Mother's House" yield to the temptations of drugs, easy money and violence; their fast-lane existence stands in contrast to the lives of the church-going women in "Gospel" and "Marie." "His Mother's House" exposes the seductions of the illusory good life that crack dealing offers young men who would otherwise face minimum-wage jobs or unemployment; "Marie" focuses on a proper old lady, driven to the end of her patience by the civil servants who are supposed to help her. Jones depicts both ends of the social and moral spectra with equal skill, revealing a depth of experience that transcends sensational headlines.

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