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Zigzagging Down a Wild Trail: Stories Hardcover – August 7, 2001

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1st edition (August 7, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679449248
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679449249
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 5.8 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,110,400 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Over the years, Mason has perfected a writerly version of method acting. As in her novels In Country and Feather Crowns, and her previous story collection, Shiloh and Other Stories, here again Mason inhabits a cast of characters who at first seem utterly defined by a world that doesn't get any larger than a small orbit of towns and country around Lexington, Ky. In the best of these 11 stories, Mason shows how deep and subtle truths can pop up anywhere and be conveyed in local dialect. Shed of two husbands and four children, the middle-aged female protagonist of "With Jazz" embarks on a casual affair with a married man called Jazz. Musing on the fruits of a long past, she feels "lost somewhere between being nice and being mean." Annie, the protagonist of "Rolling into Atlanta," works as a corporate spy, posing as a waitress, but finds herself growing attached to the headwaiter of the restaurant she's investigating. In "Three Wheeler," a potter is pestered by neighborhood boys until she one-ups them on their own turf. Not every story is so well crafted that its truths feel organic. In "Proper Gypsies," a woman borrows a friend's flat in London to regroup after a split from a lover. When the flat is burgled, the woman's feelings of wonderment and cultural displacement flare, culminating in a picturesque yet slightly contrived montage of cultural change ending with an image of a younger self seeing through a glass darkly. Mason's latest work demonstrates that the finest writers aren't afraid to think small. 11-city author tour. (On-sale: Aug. 7)

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

This fine new collection from the Kentucky author of Shiloh and Other Stories as well as novels like In Country reflects the sadder, wiser perspective of midlife. Only the kindest complaint applies: the stories end too soon. In "Tobrah," Jackie attends the funeral of her father, who left the family 35 years earlier, and is surprised to leave with her nearly five-year-old half-sister. She is further surprised when she makes room in her life for the child. In "Three Wheeler," independent potter Mary has moved home to what was once her uncle's house in Kentucky and grudgingly interacts with the struggling neighborhood children. Whether caring for aging parents, facing old age, or returning home, the protagonists in these stories face middle age with poignant resolve. Recommended for most libraries.
- Ann H. Fisher, Radford P.L., VA
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

3.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By taking a rest HALL OF FAME on February 13, 2002
Format: Hardcover
"Zigzagging Down A Wild Trail", by Bobbie Ann Mason is a great collection of short stories. She has a very unique and clever way of seeing what is presented to all of us, but is only viewed by some, and recorded by even fewer. Her stories are not about fantastically unusual events. Her characters are generally people that many will know some version of, and yet when she finishes rendering their personalities they feel as though they are new.
There are 11 stories in the collection, and the titles range from, "Tobrah, Thunder Snow, and Charger". "Tobrah", resides at one end of this range of tales, with a daughter traveling to make arrangements for her father who deserted her, only to find that with his final leaving in death he has also left her a half-sister that is younger by decades. Other than her name the child is largely a mystery, and some clues that develop are less than comforting. This story like many that are in the book are left with unfinished issues, the outcome is for the reader to decide. Many of these tales are brought to a conclusion very abruptly, a style that I usually finally annoying. This was not the case with this writer's work, and it may be because the stories themselves are so rich that even left incomplete, the writer has given her audience all they need.
Well-known events like The Gulf War are also modified so that it is the husband who has stayed behind while his wife has gone off to war. Superficially the story appears to contain much of the cliché male thinking one would expect, but pay attention to the detail, and the story is unique and very well done. The character and title of one story, "Charger", is at times humorous, and at others sad as his and his girlfriend's future are all too predictable.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Soccer Mom 2004 on April 25, 2006
Format: Paperback
Shiloh and Other Stories, Mason's early 1980's collection---the one that really put her on the map---is what all her other work is judged against. I've read it three times and it always feels fresh. Zigzagging Down a Wild Trail, by sad contrast, feels phoned in. Mason visits a lot of familiar territory and characters, but she has mostly failed to give these places and people heart in this go around. With a few fine exceptions---among them Tobrah, Three Wheeler, The Funeral Side, and Rolling Into Atlanta--at least half of the book feels like what a good Mason imitator might turn in. This isn't to say that they're not enjoyable to read. However, I only took a few days to read the collection and by the end, I could hardly remember what the first story was about. Some other stories start well but never find the cohesion or impact of Mason's best work. I can't help but think that she must have had some contractual obligation to whip out something really fast. If you've never read her before, my recommendation would be to start with Shiloh and Other Stories and then go from there.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 9, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Mason writes about a dozen short stories in this collection. Many of them are about women and all are about people reviewing their lives, the decisions they've made, the people they've loved. The stories are involving -- the kind of story that pulls you in and when you finish the story, look up and are confused as to where you are. But, while I enjoyed many of the stories, there were a few that fell short of the brilliance of the others. Many of the stories rate 4 or 5 stars, the few I didn't enjoy brought the overall rating down for me.
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By jenkinra on December 4, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I had the overwhelming sense that I had read these stories before, and that they were better the first time. Mason covers a lot of old ground here, and while a few of the stories offer new perspectives, many of them feel like retreads.
The best thing about Zigzagging over her other short story collections is it's more recent: Mason's reliance on up-to-the-minute references make her stories dated (though still excellent).
If you've never read Mason's other collections, give them a look first.
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