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The Zigzag Way by [Desai, Anita]
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The Zigzag Way Kindle Edition

3.1 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Length: 188 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
Page Flip: Enabled

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Product Description


"'dense with evocative imagery'" (The Guardian)

Book Description

'She is one of the best English language novelists of modern times' Daily Telegraph

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 486 KB
  • Print Length: 188 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Digital; New Ed edition (30 Jun. 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0054ZBWNK
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #446,797 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By catsholiday TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 25 Feb. 2014
Format: Paperback
Basically a young, rather shy man ( Eric) goes with his rather more confident girlfriend on a trip to Mexico. She then goes off to do whatever work she went there for and he is left to decide how to entertain himself. He vaguely remembers that his paternal grandparents had come from Cornwall to Mexico to work in the silver mines and sets off on a quest to discover a bit more about them and what happened to them.
This has so much promise as the story goes exploring the history of silver mining and the characters involved as well as the possibilities of developing Eric’s own story, his relationship with his girl friend, Em and those people he encounters along the way.
Sadly I was struggling from page one as I hate it when authors write in unnecessarily complicated and convoluted ways. This is the sentence that nearly had me putting the book down very early on.
“Since the inn was directly across the square from where the bus had stopped, he could not have missed it even in the dusk. The wind that had scraped and scoured the hills around till the stones gleamed white now struck the tin signboard against the wall of the inn with the sound of a bell striking the hours, drawing his attention to it.”
It might be beautifully poetic but I had to read it twice as I had lost interest by the time I was half way through and it is just a needlessly complicated a description adding nothing to the story for me.
The characters just never really became real. Em may as well not have existed as there are few scant references to her as Eric thinks about what she might have said had she been there but really not adding anything to the story for me.
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Format: Hardcover
Eric O'Brien is an uncertain and awkward young man, a would-be writer and a traveller in spite of himself. Happy to follow his more confident girlfriend Em to Mexico, he is overwhelmed with sensory overload and gradually seduced by the strangeness, the colour, the mysteries of an older world and its celebrations of the Dia de los Muertos. He finds himself in a curious quest for his own family in a ghost mining town, now barely inhabited, where almost a hundred years earlier young Cornish miners worked the rich seams in the earth. Until Pancho Villa and revolution came to Mexico.

A recording of this novel is available from BBC Audiobooks and Eleanor Bron's reading is truly breathtaking. Highly recommended.
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Format: Kindle Edition
On p159 of this novella, Anita Desai’s protagonist, Eric - a self-centred Canadian academic, bored by the effort of his thesis – considers some of the scenes from his life that have been recounted in this book and concludes ‘’But you couldn’t hold together these disparate scenes, or meld them into a coherent whole.’

Sadly, this reflects the book that is divided into four storylines. The first, ‘Eric Arrives’ introduces the reader to Eric and his medical scientist girlfriend, Em[ily], in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where they live together, and subsequently in Mexico where Em will be working on a field study in Yucutan. To pass the time in Mexico City, Eric attends a talk on the role of peyote in the culture of the Huichol Indians which stimulates him to find out more.

The second part, ‘Vera Stays’ describes the life of Vera, a Viennese chorus girl with Nazi associations, who marries a Mexican whose family fortune was based on silver mining in the Sierra Madre region. There she becomes transformed into Doña Vera the "Queen of the Sierra", a self-appointed protector of the Huichol Indians and the speaker Eric heard in Mexico City. Now an old lady, she meets Eric at her remote home/study centre but resents his telling her that he is now looking for information about his grandfather, a Cornish miner who had worked in the region. His new and rather vague idea is to use this in a proposed book. However, Doña Vera blames the mine owners for exploiting the Indians’ lives and almost destroying their culture.
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Format: Paperback
The Zigzag Way is a short novel about a young man who follows his scientist girl friend to Mexico, in order to get inspiration for his writing. When in Mexico, he comes across Dona Vera, a haughty European woman, that runs a anthropological research centre in Mexico and holds a grudge against the past mining companies and workers in the region. This encounter prompts Eric to search for his family's mining past, particularly his paternal grandmother.

After finishing this book I was confused. It seems like the story had only just begun. I was expecting to learn more about Eric and his choices, and particularly why he was reaching out to the past, but the author did not elaborate. Also, no explanation was given for Dona Vera's behaviour, there are only some references to ghosts from the past, but it all goes by so quickly, that it's almost as if the author got fed up with writing the book and decided to cut it short, a point one of my fellow reviewers also made.
I could not identify with any of the characters, because I don't feel I was given the opportunity in so short a novel. Also, I found the prose unnecessarily complex and lyrical.

I think this could have a been a great novel if the author had put more life into it. Unfortunately, it reads like a skeleton of a book, a framework that needs to be reworked and expanded.
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