Jones, Solomon 1969(?)-
JONES, Solomon 1969(?)-
Born c. 1969 in Philadelphia, PA; married; children: one daughter. Education: Temple University, B.A. (cum laude), 1998.
Philadelphia Weekly, Philadelphia, PA, senior contributing editor; Salvation Army of Eastern Pennsylvania and Delaware, former regional director of public relations; Philadelphia Committee to End Homelessness, former director of development and outreach; Calvary Baptist Church of Philadelphia, volunteer public relations director.
Pipe Dream, Random House (New York, NY), 2001.
The Bridge, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2003.
Contributor to Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Magazine, and Philadelphia Tribune.
Solomon Jones has written two novels set in the urban decay of big city America. His first novel, Pipe Dream, draws on his own past as a drug addict to present a story of a police frame-up, while in The Bridge a young girl goes missing from a Philadelphia housing project. "Jones, who grew up in the Philadelphia projects and knows his subject well, is a talent to watch," a critic for Publishers Weekly contended. In the early 1990s, Jones was a crack addict who was living in the streets. A chance opportunity to write a story for a newspaper aimed at the homeless led to his being hired at the Philadelphia Inquirer. He is currently a recovered addict and a staff member of the Philadelphia Weekly.
Pipe Dream begins with the murder of a crusading Puerto Rican city councilman in a Philadelphia crack house. Accused are four crack addicts who happened to be on the scene when the shooting occurred. They quickly find themselves hunted by the police even though they are innocent of the crime. Their efforts to avoid capture and wrongful conviction are recounted by Samuel Everett "Black" Jackson, one of the accused addicts, in a statement made to his lawyer before trial. "The chase is compelling," acritic for Publishers Weekly noted, "but even more involving is the way Jones slowly reveals each character's story, presenting in convincing and heartbreaking detail how each was sucked into dead-end addiction." "There are in-your-face scenes of scams, set-ups, burglaries, shootings and blackmail," according to Anthony C. Davis in the Black Issues Book Review. "This book is like a train wreck: It's a ghoulish scene, but hard to look away from." Reviewing Pipe Dream for Booklist, Wes Lukowsky called the novel "a shocking, visceral portrayal of the crackhead's world—a nightmare of desperate need, constant despair, and hovering death."
The world of crack addiction is familiar to Jones. He explained in an "Author Q and A" posted on the Random House Web site that "the idea for Pipe Dream came from my own experience with crack addiction. For a number of years I struggled on and off with an addiction that I never thought would suck me in the way that it did. There were times when my addiction left me homeless for weeks or months at a time. There were times when nothing was more important than getting that next hit. So the idea for the novel was there, imbedded in my own experiences." Speaking to Steve Baltin in Venice online, Jones admitted: "Pipe Dream helped me look at my addiction, what it did to the people around me, and the community in general."
In The Bridge Jones tells the story of nine-year-old Kenya Brown, the daughter of a recovering addict mother, who goes missing from Philadelphia's East Bridge Housing Project. Detective Kevin Lynch, who grew up in the housing project, and Roxanne Wilson, a black single mother, are the officers assigned to the case. The prime suspect seems to be a suspected child abuser, Sonny Williams, who is the boyfriend of Kenya's drug-dealing aunt Judy. But when Sonny cannot be found, the ensuing search for him leads to larger political implications. "Like a rock dropped in a pond," Keir Graff stated in Booklist, "the crime has effects that ripple outward to encompass other building residents, then other Philly projects, then the whole city." "This tale," Harriet Klausner remarked in an online review for BooksnBytes, "has a deeper message about an abundant society ignoring abject poverty and its consequences." Rex Klett in the Library Journal praised "Jones's authentic dialog, gritty sketches of crack dens and project buildings, and amazing character interactions."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Black Issues Book Review, July, 2001, Anthony C. Davis, review of Pipe Dream, p. 32.
Booklist, May 1, 2001, Wes Lukowsky, review of Pipe Dream, p. 1636; March 15, 2003, Keir Graff, review of The Bridge, p. 1279.
Kirkus Reviews, March 1, 2003, review of The Bridge, p. 335.
Library Journal, October 1, 2001, Robert A. Berger, review of Pipe Dream, p. 140; April 1, 2003, Rex Klett, review of The Bridge, p. 134.
Publishers Weekly, July 9, 2001, review of Pipe Dream, p. 44; March 31, 2003, review of The Bridge, p. 45.
Random House Web site,http://www.randomhouse.com/ (October 1, 2003), "Author Q and A."
Solomon Jones's Home Page,http://www.solomonjones.com (April 14, 2004).
Venice Online,http://www.venicemag.com/ (October 1, 2003), Steve Baltin, "Solomon Jones Confronts His Pipe Dream."*