‘The Sunday Following Mother’s Day’ by Edward P. Jones

The Sunday Following Mother’s Day by Edward P. Jones, 1992

The magic trick:

Including three or four massively dramatic plot elements

We take a pause in our month of British stories to travel to Washington, D.C. I couldn’t resist letting this story’s title dictate exactly where it should fall on the SSMT calendar.

Jones has such a way of creating mini-novels out of these short stories. This one follows the aftermath of a tragedy over about three decades.

It’s not just the scope of time either. It’s the sheer amount of drama packed into the story. This one features two murders, a sibling reunion, a handicapped child, and an emotional cross-generational meeting. That’s enough for three story collections.

All here in a single story.

And that’s quite a trick on Jones’s part.

The selection:

Samuel took the handles of the wheelchair and they went outside. Madeleine had never come there without Curtis or Maddie and she would have preferred going into one of the unoccupied offices in the front and shutting the door.

The woman on the lawn waved them over. “Yall set a spell with us,” she said, then began to introduce those in her family. “And this here is Clement,” she said of the retarded boy in her lap. “The baby a the family. Six years old.”

“That’s the biggest baby I ever saw,” said the woman’s daughter, who stood beside an older brother, just behind their mother. The brother whispered something in the girl’s ear and the two laughed.

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