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Review for The American Zig-Zag, Volume One - by Van Reid and Friends

From The Kenebec Journal - March 6, 2011, Bushnell on Books, By Bill Bushnell.

Anyone who has read any of the books in author Van Reid's "Moosepath League" series of wacky historical novels knows that Reid is very funny and certainly unpredictable.

While the Moosepath League novels feature a group of 19th-century gentlemen heroes armed with nothing more than good manners, THE AMERICAN ZIG-ZAG is a clever collection of short fiction, poems, cartoons, vignettes and anecdotes, all written with the attitudes, grammar, wry humor and dry disposition of an editorial staff in the 1890s.

Van Reid, of Edgecomb, is a masterful story-teller — able to spin an original yarn out of bits of nostalgia, historical color and folklore, with vivid imagination and a healthy dose of satire. He is a writer who loves to make things up.

In the story "O'Toole's New Coat," Chicago policeman Thomas O'Toole uses an ornery runaway bull to save a baby and solve a kidnapping, but his new blue uniform coat will never be the same again.

"White Mane" is an exciting story of pirates, told by two doddering sea captains in Portland's Faithful Mermaid tavern.

Other stories include a supernatural tale of a mysterious and helpful hedge that protects a house and its new owner; a goofy story about wallpaper and Greek mythology; and a fanciful explanation of the origin of theater, revealing that "our ancestors were just as good at acting bad as we are."

Best, however is the very smart western, "Mrs. Pynchon's Prerogatives," about a Canadian lawman on the trail of a gang of outlaws, a captive woman, and a curious Indian uprising.

Discover how Reid determined who in the U.S. should be the lucky recipient of an advance copy of the book; a commentary on the importance of a clean floor; and the proper use of a foot-scraper.

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