Failure to Zigzag

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Hardcover Good 0865473560 Ex library book has appropriate markings and stamps. Book itself is in very good condition with tight binding, clean pages and textblock. Board cover ... has minor shelf wear including a chip on the bottom of back cover. Dust jacket appears to be in excellent condition under the mylar cover. Read more Show Less

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Failure To Zigzag: A Novel

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Vandenburgh makes a brilliant debut with this startlingly idiosyncratic, intelligent, funny and painfully moving novel. In Southern California in the late '50s and early '60s, Charlotte, daughter of wackily schizophrenic Katrinka, struggles in the toils of family madness for a normal life. When Katrinka repairs to mental hospital, Charlotte stays with her stodgy, repressive and yet crazily eccentric Republican grandparents, who provide little more fertile ground to flourish than did Katrinka, who, for all her charm and energizing wit, is surpassingly wretched as a mother. When Katrinka enters into a brief, improbable marriage, Charlotte is schlepped along to live an unkempt, disordered life in blue collar Redondo Beach and then, gypsy-like, in an Airstream mobile home while her mother works as a circus ventriloquist. With consummate artistry and by subtle indirection, the talented author reveals courage, misery and despair through sharp, flip dialogue, evoking the reader's empathy. (Mar.)
Library Journal
The theme of insanity is always intriguing, but in this novel, more is promised than is delivered. Katrinka, an alcoholic, schizophrenic mother reminiscent of Blanche DuBois in her insidious self-centeredness, is too careless and irresponsible to parent her child, Charlotte, whom she relinquishes to her parents during stays in sanitariums. The reader hopes to receive insights into Katrinka's illness and the dynamics that foster it; instead, at the expense of characterization, our attention is drawn to brand names and other memorabilia that identify an era--the late 1950s and early 1960s--while the real story gets buried beneath narrative that too explicitly details the trivial and banal.-- Alice Shane, New York
Philadelphia Inquirer
It's southern California in the early Sixties, and Charlotte is a teenager, which is bad enough. She also has strange grandparents, with whom she lives, a schizophrenic ventriloquist alcoholic mother who appears and disappears regularly from her life, and only vague information about the father who died before Charlotte was born.

With so much craziness in the family, Charlotte figures, whether it's "nature" or "nurture," she's doomed. In Failure to Zigzag, Jane Vandenburgh gracefully zigzags between hilarity and sorrow as she recounts Charlotte's attempts to grow up and to practice "sanity as a form of revenge."

San Francisco Chronicle
Rarely has a first novel so beautifully communicated the wild intelligence and despair of the insane as Vandenburgh's exquisite Failure to Zigzag.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780865473560
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 4/1/1989
  • Pages: 336

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