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Shiloh and Other Stories

3.91  ·  Rating Details ·  1,089 Ratings  ·  57 Reviews
The famous collection of short stories that launched Bobbie Ann Mason's career, won the PEN/Hemingway Award for Fiction, and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the American Book Award, and the PEN/Faulkner Award.
Hardcover, 264 pages
Published October 26th 1995 by University Press of Kentucky (first published November 1st 1982)
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Mar 02, 2013 Mary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Mary by: Mark
Shelves: fiction, 2013
This quiet, meditative collection is set in western Kentucky, in the homes of ordinary, working-class people (I liked to believe each story was about a different neighbor).

This is not the book for you if you enjoy a dense plot. Be forewarned: nothing really happens. A couple hundred pages later and I can recall a tree being cut down, dinners being made, cats being fed…like most fiction I enjoy or movies I prefer, what I take with me is the feeling, the loneliness, the futility. This book was a
Jun 09, 2013 Jamie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
These were really something. Not too much of a weak one in the lot. My current favorite: Georgeann, the malcontent preacher’s wife, happy with her lousy chickens and playing Space Invaders in the basement. (Sorry, not Space Invaders. The Galaxians. Space Invaders is the better game, says the trucker, because things come at you head-on.)

And then there’s Mary and her dentist in “Residents and Transients,” and Nancy Culpupper twice over, and… and…

How I’d describe these stories, actually: if the ge
Meg Pokrass
Aug 19, 2012 Meg Pokrass rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

My personal favorite story in this collection is "Offerings," which originally appeared in The New Yorker in the 1980s. "Offerings" is not "flash" but it is very small for a traditional short story length, I am guessing maybe under 3000 words. I can't get over the story's magic, I keep re-readin
g it to comprehend its hypnotic complexity and simplicity (both) its honesty and intuitive sense of how the world leaves us so connected and so alone. The others in this award winning collection (the coll
Sep 18, 2007 Nathan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The title story is as good as advertised, but after that I found this collection relentlessly one-note. Almost every story features a vaguely disillusioned heroine, a poorly-developed husband who's not on the scene, and a rural setting sketched with the same tired references to daytime television and hamburger noodle casseroles. It bored me.

I only read the short story Shiloh.
I couldn't really see the point or the purpose of the story... :-/
Normally I don’t pick up a volume of stories to read, but the fact that this is a well known Kentucky author, and I had read some of her other novels, I was compelled to see what was inside. I’m glad I read this book. The stories all have similar themes, and if you read it all at once like I did, the characters and plots can get a little confusing and start to run together. The author writes perfectly using the dialect and slang of country people in Kentucky. All the stories take place in wester ...more
Jan 21, 2012 Lynn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Bobbie Ann Mason is an unusually attractive younger writer whose works have appeared in The New Yorker..." Isn't it strange that the above is the first sentence of the inside book jacket cover for this book? The book won many awards. Do any of Philip Roth's book jackets include statements like "Philip Roth is really handsome"? Strange.

The stories are terrific. I just don't see how writers master the short story and then go on to write multiple great short stories. Bobbie Ann Mason creates funny
Sep 24, 2016 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful writing, such a sense of place and characters in that. The title story turned out to be an old favorite I hadn't seen in a long time and hadn't immediately remembered, but was thrilled to recall, and the others became good friends shortly as well. A great collection overall.
Feb 10, 2012 Nathalia rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not a fan of Mason's writing style, nor am I a fan of her choices in subject matter. Her characters felt dull and lifeless, and her writing made it feel as if I was watching a puppet being strung from one paragraph to another.
Aug 25, 2011 R. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
A bit like rays of light pulsed dot-dash-dot from the warmest center of Lorrie Moore's Self-Help received and bent through a prism made of the fragile glass dreams of Raymond Carver's down-and-out husbands, sad-and-fierce wives.
Jun 17, 2017 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read "Shiloh and Other Stories" by Bobbie Ann Mason years ago; just completed reading it the second time for a program in our local library. I know I enjoyed the second reading more than the first. Ms. Mason captures the voices of my family and friends during my younger years, giving their dreams and wishes a voice I didn't capture or understand the first time around. The stories are all different in location and characters but carry a theme of how our parents and grandparents looked at everyd ...more
Mar 05, 2014 Anesa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
On our trip to Europe a few summers ago this book meant more to me than any other. So much so, I would almost say that Mason became my favorite contemporary writer, although if it came down to recommending a work, I don't really think any of the 3 I've read so far is truly "great" on its own. It's the final reflection or cumulative appeal that makes her work important to me...that and the enjoyment of reading it in the present tense!

Mason does use present tense segments quite a bit in the SHILOH
Feb 09, 2017 Dave rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
For the first half of the book this was headed toward 1 star. It almost read like a Northerner making fun of the South when in fact it was from a Kentucky native. For shame.

The 9th story, "Residents and Transients" was a solid 3.5 and though none but the concluding "Third Monday" had much going for it after that those two were enough to move the story collection from 'horrid' to 'bad'.
Feb 26, 2009 s rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
these stories glowed with a late 70s early 80s midwestern sensibility that only a true native could capture. i loved this book because it reminded me of my childhood. most importantly, mason's words describe the transition between an agrarian/rural society and the "coming of age" modernity that the midwest has and IS STILL experiencing. we all have a cousin or a relative that still looks and sounds like some of her characters. i still wince at mason's observation of where i come from--and to som ...more
I fully expected to enjoy this collection after reading the first three stories, but as I read on, I found that the definite majority of the stories are about marital discord -- usually the wife deciding she is unsatisfied in her marriage because of subtle growing apart reasons, amidst routine nights of watching Charlie's Angels and serving some very 80's recipes. Then she goes and does something really wild at the end to symbolize her new freedom. I found this collection to be both dated and di ...more
Rhonda Browning White
Wonderful collection of short stories set in western Kentucky during the late seventies and early eighties. Story topics deal with family relationships, and many touch upon the changes feminism brought to households and, particularly, husband-wife relationships. Most of the characters are working-class who deal with problems faced by people of all economic groups.

I especially like the title story, "Shiloh," which tackles the changes that occur when a male breadwinner becomes jobless and his wif
I read In Country many years ago and enjoyed it, but for whatever reason I never read any more Mason until now.

She's a solid writer. She's really great at creating a sense of place--she's definitely a southern writer. Most of her characters work at places like K-Mart and the Piggly Wiggly, and many frown upon cursing and drinking. And few are happy--but then, what characters in short stories are happy? Who wants to read stories about those people?

Reading the stories was like reading a novel; th
May 31, 2008 Niki rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
I'm a huge fan of short stories. I'm actually somewhat obsessed with the idea that an author can be so economical with words, yet often create a lasting impression/feeling that lingers. Bobbie Ann Mason, with her strong Southern influence, has some stories that can do this. Most of her work is downright depressing, yet the characters stay with you. Most of the stories don't resolve neatly, if at all. I like this for the feeling it gives of being present for a quick moment in the lives of others. ...more
May 07, 2016 Mary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed reading all the stories. I could relate to going to Shiloh. I have been there many
times. Shiloh National Military Park preserves the American Civil War Shiloh and Corinth battle-
Only Bobbie Mason could come up with a story of a young country couple going there. Their
trip was supposed to be enjoyable and bring them closer together. This was suggested by
the woman's mother as she had been there on her honeymoon years ago. Needless to say
the trip was not the adventure hoped for.
Jul 09, 2015 Joseph rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not sure I'm the best critic of short stories (or any stories, for that matter), but that aside, I thought these were pretty good stories. I don't give it four stars because I liked the stories, though; I give it four stars because I thought they were written well. Honestly, the stories disturbed me somewhat because of how accurately they portrayed family life in the south. Written primarily about western Kentucky in the 1980s, it seems that not much as changed. Most of the stories made me s ...more
Russell Anderson
Aug 30, 2014 Russell Anderson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: clsc
These stories resonated for me. My own journey from small town life to what it is today mirrored many of the characters' experiences. I shared the heartbreaking inner conflict as each small step was taken, away from the familiar and into the unknown. Acceptance isn't easy sometimes. We are all moving through our lives at different speeds, and each of us has a different journey, but at any given moment we are a mixture of who we used to be and who we are becoming. The stories in this book invited ...more
James Seawel
Jul 28, 2011 James Seawel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I renewed it twice and finally just took it back without reading all of the stories within. I'm reading too many books at once! Anyway, I had long heard of Bobbie Ann Mason and her Kentucky stories. Her western Kentucky is not too unlike my northeast, Arkansas, basically just across the River from each other. I will return to her when I'm in the mood for some stories of the rural upland South.
Oct 13, 2014 Nicola rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's been years since I have read a collection of shorts. There is something very gratifying when reading a story a chapter. I particularly enjoyed "The Retreat" about a preacher's wife who was rethinking her choices in life. I also enjoyed "Residents and Transients" about a young women who was hesitant to leave her small town roots and ended up having an affair while her husband planned a big move to the city.
May 24, 2007 Xio rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: femaleauthors
If I remember correctly she would occasionally read essays over NPR in the 80's. Being a kid inclined to thrill at these seamless insertions of dream (fiction) into lengthy news reports, I was pleased. I managed to come across this slim collection in some or another continental US bookshop (used) and to purchase it.

It's ok this way of reading (as contrasted with listening)her stories. But not nearly as pleasing as the radio.
Jeff Hobbs
Jun 08, 2016 Jeff Hobbs marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: quick-read
Read so far:

Shiloh --
The Rookers --
Detroit skyline --
Offerings --
Still life with watermelon --
Old things --
Drawing names --
The climber --
Residents and transients --
The retreat --
The ocean --
Graveyard day --
Nancy Culpepper --
Lying Doggo --
A new-wave format --
Third Monday --
Aug 13, 2008 EAK rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bobbie Ann Mason is one of my favorite short story writers. She's a Kentucky native, I believe, and her characters typically are working-class and Southern. I read "Shiloh" in high school and fell in love with Mason's style and her memorable characters. I rarely buy books (use your local library, folks!), but this is a collection I would love to own.
Dec 12, 2016 Ambdkerr rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
Mason is a master at showing her readers a snapshot view of what day to day life is like for the average person in Kentucky. Well-written. I recommend reading one short story and reading something in between stories rather than reading it cover to cover - it might be easier to keep the stories straight.
John Woodington
A couple of good stories and a few more mediocre ones here. Well structured and appropriately "literary," but not enough toeing of the emotional border between drama and melodrama. They play it safe by avoiding most forms of emotion, which leave some of them feeling dry and uninvolved. Highlights for me were "Shiloh," "Third Monday," and "Lying Doggo."
Sep 08, 2007 M rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
For me, Bobbie Ann Mason is either very, very hit or sadly miss (sadly as in her stories occasionally depress me completely, and it makes me not want to read them). This book was like that-mostly wonderful and poignant with some sad and hopeless moments dispersed throughout.
Dec 14, 2009 Jenny rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would give this book 3 1/2, but that's not an option. It was a unique book in the way it made you look at life. I was able to see a lifestyle that was not my own in a very clear and human way. Very interesting. I am glad Lori let me read it.
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Bobbie Ann Mason has won the PEN/Hemingway Award and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the American Book Award, and the PEN/Faulkner Award. Her books include In Country and Feather Crowns. She lives in Kentucky.
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“One day I was counting the cats and I absent-mindedly counted myself.” 1657 likes
“Mary Lou suddenly realizes that Mack calls the temperature number because he is afraid to talk on the telephone, and by listening to a recording, he doesn’t have to reply. It’s his way of pretending that he’s involved. He wants it to snow so he won’t have to go outside. He is afraid of what might happen. But it occurs to her that what he must really be afraid of is women. Then Mary Lou feels so sick and heavy with her power over him that she wants to cry. She sees the way her husband is standing there in a frozen pose. Mack looks as though he could stand there all night with the telephone receiver against his ear.” 2 likes
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