‘An Orange Line Train To Ballston’ by Edward P. Jones

An Orange Line Train To Ballston by Edward P. Jones, 1992

The magic trick:

Recreating Washington, D.C. with Google-Map-confirmed geographic references

The title refers to a destination in Northern Virginia, but this is very much a Washington, D.C. story. And this is something Jones does amazingly well throughout the Lost In The City collection.

It’s a story cycle set in D.C., and I’m not sure I’ve ever read fiction that was so consistently specific about its setting.

Jones makes a point to mention street grids, school names, Metro stops. It’s all there. You can do Google Map searches and follow the maps while you read. I’ve done it. It’s a lot of fun.

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

The selection:

The train stopped and the subway woman announced that it was an orange line train to Ballston. Marvella and her children always got on at the Stadium-Armory stop in Southeast. It did not matter if they took the orange line, which ended at Ballston, or the blue line, which ended at National Airport, because both lines, traveling over the same tracks, went past their McPherson Square stop.

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