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Shiloh and Other Stories

3.92  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,019 Ratings  ·  47 Reviews
"These stories will last," said Raymond Carver of Shiloh and Other Stories when it was first published, and almost two decades later this stunning fiction debut and winner of the PEN/Hemingway Award has become a modern American classic. In Shiloh, Bobbie Ann Mason introduces us to her western Kentucky people and the lives they forge for themselves amid the ups and downs of ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published August 7th 2001 by Modern Library (first published November 1st 1982)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,913)
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Mary
Apr 27, 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
...more
Jamie
May 19, 2014 Jamie rated it really liked it
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
...more
Meg Pokrass
Aug 19, 2012 Meg Pokrass rated it it was amazing
Shelves:

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
...more
Nathan
Sep 18, 2007 Nathan rated it it was ok
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.

Marion
Jun 11, 2011 Marion rated it did not like it
I only read the short story Shiloh.
I couldn't really see the point or the purpose of the story... :-/
Susan
Mar 29, 2010 Susan rated it it was amazing
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
Lynn
Jan 29, 2012 Lynn rated it really liked it
"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
...more
Anesa
Mar 05, 2014 Anesa rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Nathalia
Feb 10, 2012 Nathalia rated it did not like it
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.
R.
Aug 31, 2011 R. rated it it was amazing
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.
rachel
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
Joseph
Jul 09, 2015 Joseph rated it really liked it
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
Sep 09, 2014 Russell Anderson rated it really liked it
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
Mary
May 14, 2016 Mary rated it it was amazing
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-
fields.
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.
Nicola
Oct 20, 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.
s
Mar 19, 2010 s rated it really liked it
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
Rhonda Browning White
Oct 06, 2012 Rhonda Browning White rated it really liked it
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
...more
Joslin
Jun 22, 2014 Joslin rated it really liked it
A few really good stories in here. They tend to kind of flow into each other, with such a strong Kentucky background. Overall, quite good to read, though I wasn't floored by her stories like I often am with Jhumpa Lahiri or Alice Munro.
Donna Gardner Liljegren
I really wanted to like this, but the truth is that I didn't care much for the characters. Consequently, I didn't care how each story resolved itself. If this is life in western Kentucky, I don't need to pay a visit.
Niki
May 31, 2008 Niki rated it liked it
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
Catherine
Jun 20, 2008 Catherine rated it liked it
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
...more
Tess
Feb 12, 2015 Tess rated it liked it
I only read Shiloh but there's not an option for just that story.
Patrick T
Apr 17, 2014 Patrick T rated it really liked it
What a good collection of small stories!
Xio
May 24, 2007 Xio rated it liked it
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.
James Seawel
Aug 22, 2011 James Seawel rated it really liked it
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.
John Woodington
Oct 13, 2011 John Woodington rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
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."
EAK
Aug 13, 2008 EAK rated it really liked it
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.
Gretchen
Mar 27, 2012 Gretchen rated it it was ok
I enjoyed the writing in this collection, but it was, as one friend from book club put it, "a very quiet book where nothing really happens." The beauty and poignancy of life is shown in the details in these stories, but for me it just wasn't an enthralling journey. Beautiful writing, though.
Kate Birgel
Dec 07, 2009 Kate Birgel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a collection of short stories that I am re-reading.
I am also reading the latest compilation of KAKALAK-an anthology of Carolina Poets, a journal I have contributed to in the past and would like to submit to again. Along the saim lines, I am reading the latest Main Street Rag.
M
Sep 08, 2007 M rated it liked it
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.
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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.
More about Bobbie Ann Mason...

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“One day I was counting the cats and I absent-mindedly counted myself.” 1367 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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