Kentucky native Bobbie Ann Mason’s 2001 release, “Zigzagging Down A Wild Trail”, is a collection of short stories that seems to be targeted to her regional audience.
The book, which has more of a connection with natives of Kentucky and Appalachia but contains a good message that can be appreciated by all.
A reader can perceive Mason’s love for Appalachia by the way she describes it in her stories. For example, from “Tunicia” she wrote: “The little lily-studded brook was sashaying past, but she had a momentary impression she was moving, not the water.”
The connection to the land Mason loves is what makes the stories work. The characters in these stories are very realistic and human. I am personally happy that a writer is portraying the Appalachian community in a positive light.
Mason’s focus is on the characters individually and not on the community as a whole. There is a nostalgic feel and a certain innocence found that makes the reader want to visit the towns mentioned in the book.
In “The Funeral Side,” Mason makes a comparison between the way of life in Kentucky and Alaska. Even though Sandra loved Alaska and described it passionately, there were hints throughout that she missed Kentucky.
Mason’s ability to convey a powerful message and tell a good story is superb. Most of the stories are short, most measuring in at under twenty pages, making for an easy read.
The thing I liked the most about this book was the character development and the descriptiveness of the people, actions, and settings.
I remember reading Masons’s short story, “Shiloh”, when I was in high school. At that time, I did not appreciate Mason’s artistry and detail to each of the characters. I basically took the characters at face value.
I can look at the same story now and delve much deeper.
If I had not grown up in Kentucky and was familiar with the places she mentioned, I doubt I would have enjoyed this book as much as I did.
I am sure every state has their own Bobbie Ann Mason. I am proud she is ours.