A collection of critical essays from award-winning author Dorothy Allison about identity, gender politics, and queer theory, now with a new preface
Lambda Award and American Library Association’s Stonewall Book Award–winning author Dorothy Allison is known for her bold and insightful writing on issues of class and sexuality. In Skin, she approaches these topics through twenty-three impassioned essays that explore her identity—from her childhood in a poor family in South Carolina to her adult life as a lesbian in the suburbs of New York—and her sexuality. In “Gun Crazy,” Allison delves into what guns meant to the men and women around her when she was growing up. She gives insight into the importance of speaking professionally about sexuality in “Talking to Straight People,” and articulates the danger women feel about revealing their personal desires, even within feminist communities, in “Public Silence, Private Terror.” Allison is fearless in her discussion of many social and political taboos. Compelling and raw, Skin is an honest and intimate work—perfect for Dorothy Allison fans and new readers alike.
“The author of the National Book Award Finalist Bastard Out of Carolina and Trash, a collection of short stories, has written a book of essays that are at once political, autobiographical and revolutionary. Underneath it all runs the bittersweet story of Allison’s journey to wholeness, as she moves to understand and embrace all the disparate parts of herself.” —Los Angeles Times “Impassioned, personal and highly intelligent, Allison’s collection of published writings and addresses from the past decade examines issues of class and sexuality through the intricate lenses of autobiography and the literary experience.” —Publishers Weekly “Allison has assembled a nourishing compilation of articles and essays about being ‘queer in a world that hates queers . . . poor [in] a world that despises the poor’ and a passionate writer and lover of literature. Written during the past 11 years, the two dozen pieces cover territory that has become central to Allison’s writing: the ‘deep and messy waters of class and sexual desire,’ prejudice, family, strong women, childhood sexual and emotional abuse, loss, love, betrayal, self-hatred, and self-definition.” —Kirkus Reviews “Allison is fiercely honest and fearless when describing a sometimes-marginalized life among people who reject or patronize her because of her class or sexuality.” —School Library Journal
Dorothy Allison is a bestselling author of novels, short stories, and poetry, including Bastard Out of Carolina, Cavedweller, Two or Three Things I Know for Sure, Trash: Short Stories, and The Women Who Hate Me: Poetry 1980–1990. In 1995, Allison’s essay collection, Skin: Talking About Sex, Class & Literature, was awarded the Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Studies and the American Library Association Stonewall Award. Allison received multiple Lambda Literary Awards for Trash and Cavedweller, and Publishing Triangle’s Ferro-Grumley Award for Bastard Out of Carolina, which was a finalist for the National Book Award, and the basis for the film of the same name. Allison has been the subject of many profiles and a short documentary film of her life, entitled Two or Three Things but Nothing for Sure. She lives in California with her partner and their son.
Impassioned, personal and highly intelligent, Allison's ( Bastard Out of Carolina ) collection of published writings and addresses from the past decade examines issues of class and sexuality through the intricate lenses of autobiography and the literary experience. ``I try to live naked in the world,'' says the writer, as she blends a tender reminiscence of her mother's death with an attempt to make sense of her mother's life. ``I refuse the language and categories that would reduce me to less than my whole complicated experience,'' she proclaims, advancing the idea that those born ``poor, queer, and despised'' have an imperative to do more than simply survive. All of these finely wrought essays discuss the author's emotions and politics during years marked by poverty, abuse and the realization that her sexual nature was a threat even to lesbians and feminists. The power of the writing lies in its fluid, almost musical ability to move from one dimension to another, so that politics are laced with accounts of childhood wounds, sexual pleasures and an ongoing look at how the author's work as a writer of fiction meshes with her fervent will to speak only the truth. Strap-on dildos, backyard barbecues, family terrors, bygone lovers and the literary canon all find their way into this exuberant volume by a writer who exposes even the most painful realities with reverence and awe.