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Bastard out of Carolina: (Plume Essential…

Bastard out of Carolina: (Plume Essential Edition) (edition 2005)

by Dorothy Allison

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3,763851,385 (4.02)142
Title:Bastard out of Carolina: (Plume Essential Edition)
Authors:Dorothy Allison
Info:Plume (2005), Mass Market Paperback, 320 pages
Collections:Read but unowned

Work details

Bastard Out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison

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» See also 142 mentions

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this book is breathtaking. in the breadth and depth of the story and content as well as the writing. i wish i wasn't rushed to finish it because i want to read this one slowly; it deserves to be read slowly. it is so full of emotion (mostly pain, but some hope) that it should be read and sat with, and i didn't really get to do that. but i so appreciate what she has done here - shining a light on abuse and violence in a way that was so important when this was written. she shows such a personal story of living with violence, but also how the community supports and fails the people in it. how inescapable certain things seem - and maybe are - but also the potential people have.

i don't know what i want to say. this book is powerful and beautiful in all the ugliness and so hard and necessary to read. there are only (can i say that?) a few parts that were brutal (although in my memory of it, the entire book was this way, so they are awfully tough and they are memorable) to read, but oh there is so much heartbreak here. as a reader invested in the characters you want so badly for certain things to happen, but as a reader who wants the truth you know that it can't turn out that way. and it wrecks you.

"Mama smiled, joked, slapped ass, and firmly passed back anything that looked like a down payment on something she didn't want to sell."

"Moving gave me a sense of time passing and everything sliding, as if nothing could be held on to anyway. It made me feel ghostly, unreal and unimportant, like a box that goes missing and then turns up but you realize you never needed anything in it anyway."

"'They want you, oh yes, they want you. Till they get you. An't nothing in this world more useless than a hardworking religious fool. It an't that you get religion. Religion gets you and then milks you dry. Won't let you drink a little whiskey. Won't let you make no fat-assed girls grin and giggle. Won't let you do a damn thing except work for what you'll get in the hereafter. I live in the here and now, and I need my sleep on a Sunday morning. But I'll tell you, Bone, I like it that they want me, Catholics and Baptists and Church of Gods and Methodists and Seventh-Day Adventists, all of them hungry for my dirty white hide, my pitiful human soul. Hell! None of them would give two drops of piss for me if I was already part of their saggy-assed congregations.'" ( )
1 vote elisa.saphier | Sep 3, 2015 |
I tore right through this novel and felt the entire spectrum of emotions. Bone and Annie were with me long after I finished the book, forcing me to think about the complex nature of abusive relationships and the vulnerability of children. I remember this novel being very well written.

I do not recommend this to anyone who reads for the sake of getting OUT of depression....

( )
  engpunk77 | Aug 14, 2015 |
This certainly has its charms, especially in the way it manages to draw the educated, literary reader into a kind of sympathy with a way of life they would normally see as truly repulsive in every aspect. But that is largely a trick, and it's one that many other writers about the Southern US have pulled off equally successfully. This book really stands or falls on its merits as literature-as-therapy, and it's hard to be objective about that. If you haven't been a victim of childhood abuse you don't feel that you have a right to comment; if you have then your reaction is going to be subjective by definition. It's probably a good thing that there are books like this and that the subject should be one we can talk about freely, and I'm inclined to agree with Allison's argument that it's better on the whole to have artistically-contrived fictional accounts than sob-memoirs, and that the "cult of non-fiction" can become a dangerous distraction from the real issues. But it's also important that we don't allow this sort of thing to devalue literature-as-entertainment. ( )
  thorold | Aug 11, 2015 |
This book is so raw, painful, gutsy, vivid and honest it leaves a hole in your heart.

Semi-autobiographical, this is the story of Bone, a child born to southern 'white trash' in Carolina, to a family where illegitimacy, criminality, abuse and hopelessness are a way of life, part of an inevitable cycle that passes from generation to generation.

But this is so much more than yet another survival memoir - this is flawless fiction which I would go so far as to say is of a standard up there with To Kill a Mockingbird (and I don't say that lightly).

Everything in this novel is so vivid. The physical surroundings - the dilapidated houses in the wrong part of town, the dirt ingrained in the window sills, the grassless yards, iced tea on rotting porches, trash floating up the weed encrusted river, the meals of biscuits and gravy, the country music peppering evenings on the porch, the hot days and cool nights. The Boatwright family themselves - the uncles who fall in and out of jobs and jail; the aunts with umpteen kids and no expectations; the forthright granny who pulls no punches; the mother who compartmentalises her love for her child from her love for the man who is destroying that child.

Allison so deftly gets under the skin of the complexities of poverty and abuse, of choiceless existences, of the strength and complications of family love in this environment, of how the impact of all of this can inevitably set out a child's path in life from far too early an age. It's makes for difficult reading in parts - it touches on realities most of us would prefer to sweep under the carpet than visualise, but it's profoundly impacting, bringing the hidden violence of our communities out into the open.

There's no warm, fuzzy feeling by the end of this book - this is a book to immensely respect and appreciate. I don't know about the rest of the world, but it's certainly under the radar in the UK, and most undeservedly so.

5 stars. An immense writing achievement. ( )
3 vote AlisonY | Apr 24, 2015 |
This is such a well-written book that one forgets about how distasteful some of the subject matter is. I highly recommend it to anyone who's interested in masterful use of the language. ( )
  AntT | Jan 24, 2015 |
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People pay for what they do, and still more for what they have allowed themselves to become. And they pay for it simply: by the lives they lead.

-James Baldwin
For Mama Ruth Gibson Allison 1935-1990
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I've been called Bone all my life, but my name's Ruth Anne.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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This book is fiction, but it comes so real with the feeling of an amateur autobiography. The author is so descriptive, she takes you to the time and place and puts you right there watching it all happen. It was a very captivating, but sad story.
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Ruth Ann Boatwright, a South Carolina bastard, tells her life with her family and the emotional and physical violence she experiences.

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