Walking Across Egypt

Walking Across Egypt

by Clyde Edgerton

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"An unpretentious, finely-crafted novel that will linger with the readers like the last strains of a favorite hymn. It is more enjoyable than a pitcher full of sweet tea and one of Mattie's home-cooked dinners."--The Atlanta Journal & Constitution

She had as much business keeping a stray dog as she had walking across Egypt--which not so incidentally is the title of her favorite hymn. She's Mattie Rigsbee, an independent, strong-minded senior citizen, who at 78, might be slowing down just a bit. When young, delinquent Wesley Benfield drops in on her life, he is even less likely a companion than the stray dog. But, of course, the dog never tasted her mouth-watering pound cake....Wise witty, down-home and real, Walking Across Egypt is a book for everyone.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781565129054
Publisher: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
Publication date: 01/03/1987
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 250
Sales rank: 185,325
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Clyde Edgerton is the author of eight novels, five of which have been New York Times Notables. He is a professor of creative writing at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and performs with his band, Rank Strangers. Author Web site—www.clydeedgerton.com.

Table of Contents

Reading Group Guide

1. Is religion treated positively in this novel? Negatively?
Neither? Both? How?

2. Does the novel seem to end too soon? Why or who not?

3. What is your opinion of the manner in which Mattie Rigsbee,
standing before several “ghosts,” makes her decision to take in Wesley Benfield.

4. Do you know people who remind you of Mattie Rigsbee?
If so, what are their shared characteristics?

5. The novel is over one-third finished when one of the main characters, Wesley Benfield, is introduced. Does this delayed entry seem to detract from or enhance the plot structure, and how?

6. How would you interpret, psychologically, Mattie’s need to feed people?

7. Do you think Mattie did a good job raising her children?

8. How would you describe Mattie’s relationship with her church?

9. At one point in the story, Mattie speaks of marrying Wesley.
Is this her idea of a joke? A sign of senility or stroke? All of the above? Neither?

10. Would this book be appropriate for high school readers?

11. In two sentences say what you think this book is about.

12. What are issues in this book that divide and will continue to divide generations in the foreseeable future?

13. How does food play a part in your upbringing?

Customer Reviews

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Walking Across Egypt 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
Timhrk More than 1 year ago
I like the sentences, I like the general ambiance, the depiction of a small town and the characters are well drawn. We meet a feisty senior citizen, a lonely man she befriends and a juvenile delinquent she tries to help. Raney was a masterpiece and even though this one was not all that, more clever than brilliant, I still want to read the entire output of this author. http://timothyherrick.blogspot.com/
Guest More than 1 year ago
In the book Walking Across Egypt,by Clyde Edgerton, the plot is in an old woman's house in South Carolina. The old woman is Mattie Rigsbee, but poor Mattie does not realize how much the outside world has changed. 'I'm slowin' down' says Mattie many times through out the book. Even when all the others at church say Mattie is one of the most active and healthy people they know. Walking Across Egypt is a Fiction book but might have very well happened, or may have been played off of realistic events. Clyde Edgerton's description of settings and people in this book are amazing, creative metaphors and similies are used through out the book.The problem in the book starts when Mattie finds a stray dog outside her house and calls the dogcatcher to come get it. Right before this Mattie called the furniture repair man to mkae her new chair bottoms, therefore her chairs has no bottoms to sit down in. She had forgotten about this and accidentally sat down in one of the chairs without a bottom. Mattie was not only embarassed about that at the time, but also was embarassed that her favorite soap opera was on also. Mattie didn't want any one the find out about the situations she was in, so she does not call for help and consequently stayed in the chair for six to eight hours. Suddenly she hears a knock at her door, 'Come in, come in!' she said with relief and embarrrassment. The dogcatcher, Lamar helps cut her out of the chair and also does her dishes for her. If you enjoy funny yet serious books, you would proabbaly enjoy this book. Clyde Edgerton's other book, Raney, is very similiar to the one in the descriptions and metaphors he uses.The difference with the fiction book than others, is that this could actually happen and the meaning is very biblical. The Chapters are not too long so if you do not like reading alot at one time, this is a good book for you. This book is fairly long. Lamar's nephew, Weseley,is a Juvinile Delinquent, and is humurously tied into the plott. He escaped from the detention center, but realizes that he must serve time for his crime. But he grows close to Mattie Rigsbee and becomes a better preson eventually. This book is very good and shows that the bad can be good and the even the good can be bad. It also shows that appearance is not something you should judge some one by, and that only God can judge us. This meaning behind this book is amazing, and i recommend it for everyone.
DowntownLibrarian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A wonderful and gently wacky portrayal of the relationship between an elderly widow and a budding juvenile delinquent. If you like Southern food, this book will also make you hungry.
GJbean on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
loved it reading the seqelSeventy-eight year old Mattie Riggsbee, spunky and determined, has one regret: she has no grandchildren, as her son and daughter inconveniently remain unmarried. The story gathers momentum after a slightly sluggish start, when Wesley Benfield, wayward teenager and orphan, comes into Mattie's life. Their need for each other is apparent, and their attempts to get together, despite the disapproval of Mattie's family and neighbors, are the focus of the story. Wesley is captivated by Mattie's good cooking and grandmotherly attention, and when he escapes from a house of detention, he heads straight to Mattie. There is a hilarious scene in church, where the fleeing Wesley and the pursuing deputy sheriff, both disguised as choir members, sit beside each other in full view of the congregation.
jayne_charles on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book, which is not set in Egypt, and where nobody walks much further than the local church, was an oddity. Two parts farce to three parts religious indoctrination, it centres on an elderly widow living in the south of the USA.The depiction of the elderly characters is thought provoking. Their focus is on washing up, cooking, nurturing, offering hospitality and going to church. They aren¿t distracted by the complications and concerns of the modern world, they just keep plodding forward the best way they know how. It put me in mind of `The Waltons¿, though it is doubtful whether the Waltons would have dared crack quite so many jokes about sperm.The pace and tone of the novel is gentle, and I suspect it would work quite well as a theatre production as there are very few scene changes, and characters (like the annoying but amusing neighbours) popping in and out to deliver their lines. If I had a problem it was that I never knew where I stood with it. Was I supposed to laugh, cry or pray? Was I having my heart forcibly warmed? My inner agnostic railed against the religious overtones, and whilst it would be lovely to think we could really change the world for the better with a slice of pound cake and a dollop of the gospels, I suspect it¿s not feasible.
dawnlovesbooks on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
touching little southern story
andrewcool on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An great story of how two totally different people who live in two different worlds (an Old Lady, and a Young Trouble maker) can find so much in common, and that both need each other.
knittingfreak on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
All I can say is if you haven't ever read anything by Clyde Edgerton, don't wait any longer. He's a North Carolina author and is always more than happy to participate in events around the state. His brand of Southern Lit. is a little lighter than that of Faulkner or O'Connor, but no less worthy. It's full of many of the mandatory themes for Southern Lit. -- religion, food, family, and people down on their luck. What's missing from this book that is always prevalent in books by more famous Southern writers is the misery. As much as I like Faulkner, O'Connor, and Capote (just to name a few), you don't usually come away from their books with a light heart. I actually finished Walking Across Egypt with a smile on my face. In fact, I found myself laughing out loud more than once while reading this book.Like many of Edgerton's books, this one is set in the fictional Listre, North Carolina. The main character is Mattie Rigsbee who is a 78-year old, feisty widow that loves nothing more than to feed everyone she meets. This character reminds me so much of my own grandmother who is now 95 years old and in a nursing home. My grandmother, like Mattie Rigsbee, made it her mission in life to feed anyone who came to her house. I don't mean just a sandwich, mind you. I mean a full course meal, which might include fried chicken, meatloaf (she always had more than one main course), cabbage, fried okra, fried squash, sliced tomatoes, rice, gravy, homemade biscuits, green beans, corn and several different desserts. My grandma is famous for her chocolate pie and egg custard pie. I'm drooling just thinking about it.In between cooking and taking care of her home, Mattie is busy with her church and family. She has two grown children, but she's still waiting on grandchildren. Mattie takes every opportunity she's presented to remind her children that she isn't getting any younger and neither are they. Her life takes an unexpected turn when she is introduced to Wesley, a young man in the juvenile detention center nearby. Taking her scripture seriously, she decides to "do unto the least of these." She visits Wesley and takes him some of her famous homemade poundcake and a mason jar of sweet tea. Wesley is rough around the edges but can't get this kindness out of his mind.I won't go into any more detail, but this is a "feel good" story that is at turns both heartwarming and hilarious. The book was made into a movie, which stays pretty close to the original. It was good, but as usual I prefer the book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
tigerism More than 1 year ago
This is a life book and a "laugh out loud" book. it is a must read for seniors or childern of seniors
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Edgerton has done it once again! He delicately interweaves comedy into his plot, allowing for a most fascinating story. This novel exemplifies a large range of relationships between its characters.
Guest More than 1 year ago
'Simply a brilliant novel.' Through much time and patience, an elderly woman, Mattie Rigsbee, turns a troubled delinquint, Wesley Benfield, into a fine young man.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I found myself not only over-indulgent, but addicted to every written word. This story gives a greater insight¿as well as spectrum¿into the well known ¿generation X.¿ You can¿t help, but fall in love with the well presented characters who turn out to be greater than they appear. Without spoiling the ending, I can say that it has quite an uplifting warm change of sequence. This book is a must have and I would STRONGLY recommend it to anyone who believes in love. ¿Nickolas 17 years of age
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What was I thunk in to buy two books by thus author . Both are stupid and boring.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Though this book has some attention grabbing sections, it starts off as a book that takes extreme determination to get through. At the end you can admit that it wasn't a total waste of time, but first you have to get through it.