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Amber Paulen

A Conversation with Dorothy Allison

at John Cabot

Last night when Dorothy Allison walked into the room for a second time I was no longer shocked at how her size didn’t reach the monolith in my mind. She took a seat between the two academics. Sarcasm breezed across her face as they listed her long achievements, again. She recounted an incident before a reading that her sister attended, who shouted in response to such a list, “Who do you think you are? Some kind of Renaissance woman!” (Remember the southern accent.)

Then the conversation got underway. Questions were posed, back and forth between two professors, one Carlos Dews, whose personal statement at the beginning made clear Allison’s influence on his work, and another whose name I have no clue. I can’t remember much about the questions, but that they were good and elicited good answers.

What I remember (and wrote down):

Then she got up to stand behind the podium—she said writers need to exercise and stretch—to read another short story entitled Jason. Again, her story and her voice strung me along; I envisioned what she was telling so vividly before me: the dust on Jason’s boots and the basement he wanted to get locked into to emerge brilliant and finally, loved. Dorothy Allison’s stories are heart rending. I almost started crying.

Dorothy Allison signature

Dorothy Allison signed my book!


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