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Short Story Collection Review    


Zigzagging Down a Wild Trail
by Bobbie Ann Mason
Random House, 2001
ISBN:  0-679-44924-8

If life is a wild trail, then Bobbie Ann Mason takes readers on a journey of self-discovery as she zigzags through eleven short stories in Zigzagging Down a Wild Trail.  Many of the stories are set in Mason’s native Kentucky, but she her narrative pen reaches throughout the south – even to England – and captures the universal emotions of life’s evolution.

In “With Jazz,” twice-divorced Chrissy is dealing with her adult children’s problems and the failures of her past relationships.  Yet, Jazz offers an uncomplicated love with no ties and a lot of heart.

In “Tobrah,” a single childless woman inherits her five-year-old half sister she didn’t know existed.  Through the Tobrah, Jackie reconnects with her inner child and discovers a part of the father she didn’t know. 

“Three-Wheeler” proves that freedom comes in many forms.  Mary inherits her uncle’s Kentucky home and works on her pottery.  Two young boys in need of money offer to move a pile of dirt for her.  The small chore grows and grows, till they discover the three-wheeler – which would make their job easier.  Battling nosey neighbors and little boys, Mary takes the three-wheeler on the trail and dreams of her days in New Mexico.

In “The Funeral Side,” Sandra McCain returns to care for her father after his stroke.  The family lived on the second floor, with the two businesses below – a furniture store and the funeral home.  The funeral side is closed until the death of a family friend.  This event opens old wounds for Sandra of her mother’s death, but she awakens to her father’s love and the ritual of community as they celebrate death.

“Charger” is a young man in love with Tiffany, a girl in snake pants.  He is battling depression that he and Tiffany will become his parents, who married young then grew apart.  Charger’s father abandoned his family in Kentucky to run off to Texas.  Believing he will only find happiness in Texas, Charger turns a short road trip into a journey of the spirit to Texas – only to become grounded in Tiffany’s love.

Bobbie Ann Mason is the author of Shiloh and Other Stories, which won the PEN/ Hemingway Award, and Feather Crowns, which won the Southern Book Award and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. 

Joyce Dixon
Southern Scribe Reviews