Dorothy Allison, accomplished writer and Eckerd College alumna, gave a reading from her novel “Bastard Out of Carolina,” which was a finalist for the National Book Award in 1992. To a crowd of around 100 students in the Cobb Gallery, she spoke about her writing and writing process on Wednesday, March 4. She also visited classes to speak on writing and lead a workshop.
Katherine Winship, an undeclared first year, was blown away by how Allison presented her work. The emotion in her Allison itself was moving. “I wouldn’t be able to get that power just from reading [her work],” Winship said.
Allison attended Eckerd College when it was called Florida Presbyterian College and graduated in 1971. She studied Anthropology and “illegally made grilled cheese sandwiches and sold them” to her fellow students.
Allison grew up in a working-class family who did not entirely understand her love of reading. She recounted doing hair to make some money so that she could buy books and being on the “exchange list” with some of her mother’s coworkers, a group where the women would lend their books to one another. When she came to Eckerd and found the library she was ecstatic, saying that it was like “stepping through an open door into the sunlight.”
Allison is a self-proclaimed “lesbian feminist revolutionary.” Her writing carries themes of feminism, working-class life and, as she said, “the understanding of evil, (and) the understanding of how you survive evil.”
“I know we all are supposed to want to write lovely kind stories,” Allison said, “(but) I really wanted to scare the hell out of people.” Her stories often cover very intense topics, many of which relate to violence against women. She tells these stories with an authentic voice that tells these stories in a heartbreaking way.
Olivia Jacobson, a junior and creative writing major, introduced Allison. Jacobson said that she was very moved by Allison’s writing. She was also very pleased by the turn out at the event given that around a hundred people showed up.