As indicated in Leslie Poston’s article (2006), Dorothy Allison was the first born child of an unmarried waitress in Carolina who had an early pregnancy and gave birth to her at the age of fifteen. Dorothy since she was the first born child was the foremost member of her family to be able to finish studies in high school and after graduating in 1979, she went to the Florida Presbyterian College (currently known as Eckerd College) to continue her studies to college, and she chose to study Anthropology at the New School for Social Research (Poston, 2006).
As stated by the Dorothy Allison’s webpage (www.bedfordstmartins.com), Allison describes herself as an advocate of feminism, an emigrant to the south, and also a relaxed and happy born-again citizen of California, in addition to that she stated that one thing that really moved her life and made her see and understand a lot of things about life was the beliefs of early movements of feminists; on the other hand she confesses that the publication of her stories would not have been possible if not for her decision to let go of her narrow-mindedness with regards to her problems with her sisters and mother and get in touch again with them(www.bedfordstmartins.com).
According to the Dorothy Allison Biography (1999) Dorothy Allison at present is largely acknowledged by the Boston Globe as one of the writers of her time that have created a name in the field of fiction writing, the New York Times Book Review even described her using the words “simply astonishing”; Dorothy Allison was first introduced to the world when she was born in Greenville, which is at the South of Carolina but she grew up and made her own home with her own family and they lived in Northern California. At present Allison is living with her better half Alix Layman, and their son who is already a teenager, who they named Wolf Michael (Dorothy Allison Biography, 1999).
Dorothy Allison’s first published novel was entitled Bastard Out of Carolina, and it was qualified to be one of the five finalists for the National Book Awards in 1992 (Miller, 2002). The novel continued to win the Ferro Grumley and as well as the Bay Area Book Reviewers Awards which was for fiction novels. The novel has come into view in its different translated versions in French, German, Greek, Spanish, Norse, Chinese and also Italian. And in 1996, Allison’s Bastard out of Caroline novel had a movie version and it premiered in Showtime. That film was directed by Angelica Huston (Miller, 2000).
The second novel of Dorothy Allison was the critically and highly praised Cavedweller. It was a New York Times Best seller. Cavedweller also won the Lambda Literary Award of 1998 for fiction novels and it as well reached the Lillian Smith Prize and was qualified to be nominated as a finalist. It is at this time being adapted and modified by Kate Ryna for her stage play production.
Allison’s performance work chapbook, according to Laura Miller (2000) the book “Two or Three Things I Know for Sure” had been published in September of 1995 by Dutton. It also was chosen as a noteworthy book of the year by the New York Times Book Review. Tina DiFeliciantonlo together with Jane Wagner translated Allison’s work into a short documentary. The documentary was entitled Two or Three Things and Nothing for Sure. The documentary translation acquired prizes and awards at the film festivals of Toronto and Aspen, and it was premiered in the summer of 1998 at PBS as a segment of the much admired POV series (Miller, 2000).
Dorothy Allison has also published small press books which include Skin: Talking About Sex, Class and Literature published in 1995 (McGrath, 1995), it was a compilation of the essays written by Allison, and based on the Dorothy Allison Bibliography (1999), Allison’s performance pieces and speeches became a winner during the American Library Association Gay and Lesbian Book Awards of 1995. Another work by Allison was Trash, which is an anthology of short stories that had flourished and won in the Lambda Literary Awards for Lesbian Fiction and Lesbian Small Press Book according to Dorothy Allison Bibliography (1999). Allison has published two poetry editions; and in 1983 the Long Haul Press entitled these as The Women Who Hate Me-the firs in 1983t and in 1990 the expanded edition was published by Firebrand. The poetry chapbook has been constantly in print for not less than one decade and two years.
In an article in www.bedfordstmartins.com about the life of Dorothy Allison, 1998 was the year that the Independent Spirit Award giving body was founded by Allison and each year it gives a prize to an individual whose work and exertions along with the small presses and independent bookstores has contributed to keep that enterprise going. The award, handed out by the Astraea Foundation, is intentionally deliberated to give confidence to the people and the institutions which are very important in sustaining and supporting new-fangled writers and in the introduction and familiarization of readers to works that could otherwise possibly go off not heard and not read.
Dorothy Allison is one of the boards of PEN International and she is also serving on the National Coalition against Censorship and Feminists for Free Expression Advisory board, and the advisory floorboard of the James Tiptree Jr. Memorial Award which is a prize awarded annually to a work about science fiction and fantasy works that travels around and opens out on the present-day ideas in connection to gender.
One of Allison’s most significant publications TRASH is a collection of short stories. It is a book that reverberates with unbending honesty and incandescence and surely it will be able to enthrall her multitude of readers and win her a dedicated crowd of supporters. It is an autobiographical book of stories similar to essays that reflects the life and insights of Dorothy Allison.
Even though these stories of Allison are fictional there is a clarity that the stories have developed from the backyard of Allison’s personal relationships to friends and her family. Fundamentally two voices are present in most of the stories; they are from a young and immature girl who is growing up in Greenville, South Carolina and tells stories in relation to her mother and her sisters, her aunts and her grandmother, as well as the insubordinate lesbian revealing the truth in her sexuality. What these two have in common is that they are the voices of the “other,” or the voices that are either not included totally from the prevailing culture or professed only in typecast. The works of Allison are looking for an additional honest depiction of these voices (Goodstein, 2002).
TRASH was first published in 1988 and it displayed Allison at her most courageously sincere and surprisingly brilliant. Represented in the short stories are the boundless compass of the emotions and experiences of human being that provides a voice that is throbbing and articulate to the appalling wounds inflicted on those who are closest to us. Most of these short stories are accounts of losing and deliverance; of embarrassment and absolution; of love and mistreatment and the curative power and capability of telling a story. This book features “Stubborn girls and Mean stories” which serves as the introduction because it tells about the process of writing Trash and other short stories such as Deciding to Live, River of Names
Meanest Woman Ever Left Tennessee, Mama, Gospel Song, I’m Working on My Charm, etc (Birnbaum, 2002).
The short story “I’m Working on My Charm” talks about the life of a southern woman who works as a waitress at a drugstore lunch counter. It is like a description; it is close to a sort of narrative of what it is like to have career in serving food at the Moses Drugstore. In this story the character gives sufficient instances of the incidences that explain why her job look as if it is interesting in regardless of the never ending routine in connection to food service. This story is one of the stories that take hold of the one who reads and with their viciously straightforward recognition of the author’s love and hate association with her ancestry (Goodstein, 2002).
Dorothy Allison’s great effort for self-awareness came across antagonism from some unknown sources. During Allison’s time, as stated by McGrath (1995), the community of lesbians turned their backs away from her and to her frankness about her practices regarding sex. Allison grew up fundamentally a working class kid who panders into rough trade. She stated that it is not that extraordinary in her experience; however it is unsympathetically not respectable in the community of lesbians. It is amusing that the lesbian symbol is that derogatory butch in a leather jacket, but lesbian feminism puts that icon away because it was a fixation people in no way was supposed to wish for.
Speaking on the subject of the contemporary lesbian generation, according to McGrath’s (1995) article Allison stated, “Now that I have reached my forties I sometimes get extremely jealous of the youth, because I still want to wear the clothes they get to wear and still be dykes. I took a lot of shit for wearing those clothes, choosing them boots, acting that way. So occasionally I’m a little jealous, a little testy. I just try to keep a sense of humor about it (McGrath, 1995).”
“Dorothy Allison “. 1998. Bedford/St. Martin’s. March 21 2007. <http://www.bedfordstmartins.com/litlinks/fiction/allison.htm>.
“Dorothy Allison Biography”. 1999. queerculturalcenter.org. March 20 2007. <http://www.queerculturalcenter.org/Pages/MainMenu/Arch_Indx.html>.
Birnbaum, Robert. “Dorothy Allison”. 2002. Duende Publishing. March 20 2007. <http://www.identitytheory.com/people/birnbaum67.html>.
Goodstein, Jack. “
A Review of Trash and Bastard out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison”. 2002. The Compulsive Reader.com. March 20 2007. <http://www.compulsivereader.com/html/index.php?name=News&file=article&sid=405>.
McGrath, Kathryn. “Dorothy Allison: Lesbian from Another Planet”. Washington, 1995. The University of Washington Student Newspaper. March 20 2007. <http://archives.thedaily.washington.edu/1995/101295/allison.html>.
MILLER, LAURA. “[ T H E _S a L O N_ I N T E R V I E W ] Dorothy Allison”. 2000. Salon.com. March 20 2007. <http://www.salon.com/books/int/1998/03/cov_si_31intb.html>.
Poston, Leslie. “Author Snapshot Biography: Allison”. Vancouver, 2006. Suite101.com Media Inc. March 21 2007. <http://americanfiction.suite101.com/article.cfm/author_snapshot_biography__allison>.