Bastard Out of Carolina
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Bastard Out of Carolina

4.05 of 5 stars 4.05  ·  rating details  ·  24,231 ratings  ·  1,577 reviews
/Allison/Dorothy In languid prose that beautifully evokes the rural South of the '60s and '70s, Allison tells the story of the Boatwright family, who refuse to be shamed by the label "poor white trash". Allison's keen eye and lyrical style throw into sharp relief the rages and sorrows of this bunch of drunks and thieves, making for an asto
Hardcover, 309 pages
Published April 30th 1992 by Dutton Adult (first published January 1st 1992)
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Jeffrey Keeten
Oct 27, 2012 Jeffrey Keeten rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Jeffrey by: On the Southern Literary Trail
”He pinned me between his hip and the sink, lifting me slightly and bending me over. I reached out and caught hold of the porcelain, trying not to grab at him, not to touch him. No. No. No. He was raging, spitting, the blows hitting the wall as often as they hit me. Beyond the door, Mama was screaming. Daddy Glen was grunting. I hate him. I hated him. The belt went up and came down. Fire along my thighs. Pain. I would not scream. I would not, would not, would not scream.”

Bone
Bone played by Jena Mal...more
Mike
Bastard Out of Carolina: A Reader's Personal Reflection

“People pay for that they do, and still more, for what they have allowed themselves to become. And the pay for it simply: by the lives they lead. - James Baldwin” --From the epigraph to the novel.

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"No one knows what goes on behind closed doors."

It is hard to swallow, hard to believe, stories such as the one told by Dorothy Allison. The world would be a much prettier and more pleasant place if we did not have to believe things of the nature...more
Larry Bassett
”Oh, but that’s why I got to cut his throat,” she said plainly. “If I didn’t love the son of a bitch, I’d let him live forever.”

This statement written by Dorothy Allison in Bastard Out of Carolina and spoken by Alma is often quoted in reviews. Words in the Boatwright family are not always logical and rarely without passion. By the time you read this book you will have had enough experience with the large dysfunctional family to know that.
I remembered Aunt Alma’s direct look this afternoon whe
...more
knig
I was really looking forward to some Southern Comfort with a side serving of White Trash to Gari gargle with, after a longish bout of ‘classic’ literature. Its necessary, when one finds oneself saying ‘wherwithal’ and ‘henceforth’ in all seriousness. Over a pint.

But Dorothy Allison doesn’t deliver what she promises on the label. There is, forsooth (oops, there I go again), no White Trash qualia here at all. No madness, no real violence (save for two scenes towards the end), no drunkenness, no n...more
Robert
Bastard Out of Carolina is one of those books about which all of the hooplah surrounding it really baffles me. Allison basically plagiarizes herself by, instead of expanding what was a quite good short story she wrote and published in High Risk: An Anthology of Forbidden Writings, simply cutting and pasting sections of it throughout the book (I actually went through it and identified the sections because I could scarcely believe a serious author would do something so incredibly lazy). The final...more
Cheryl
Dorothy Allison pissed a few people off when she first wrote this novel. Boy am I glad she did. Why should literature seek to please, rather than excite the reader? Why should it try to be polite in order to seek the truth? Should books not produce composed disorder, honest diatribes, and gut-wrenching truths? Insult me, make me angry, make me laugh, make me cry, leave my mouth agape from disbelief at your crude renunciations of what I thought was orthodox--all things that good books do.

In Gree...more
Michael
'I had wanted to laugh at everyone, Raylene and the nurses, all of them watching me like some fragile piece of glass, ready to shatter around boiling water. I was boiling inside. I was cooking away. I was who I was going to be, and she was a terrible person.'

A word of warning right from the start if you are sensitive to physical, sexual and mental abuse than this book may be one you will wan't to avoid. Narrated by Ruth Anne 'Bone' Boatwright, this a harrowing story of a dysfunctional but loving...more
Jim Kuhn
Took the shine off my teeth, this one. But also made me want to torch every bottle distributor truck in the Carolinas just in case it might slow down that piece of work Glen and his damn fool wife. Forget about burning down the Greenville courthouse. Bone had the right idea when she went up on the roof: you got to hit them the only place they can feel, in the cash pocket.

I read this slow. Slow and stubborn, which felt just right. And now I'm snake-bit: I need to hear more from Granny about what...more
Lewis
A contemporary classic, this powerful novel is a disturbing tale of child abuse, told with wisdom and restraint. Allison brilliantly tells the story through the first-person narrative of Bone, a young girl who doesn’t want to believe what’s happening to her, so for the most part she reveals the truth sparingly—which makes the more dramatic moments that much more terrifying. Allison deftly captures the psychological nuances of the situation at the same time, making clear to the reader some things...more
Sue Davis
This is one of the most heart wrenching, shockingly sad novels about poverty, family interaction, dysfunction and abuse that I have read recently. For me Allison's treatment of class and gender and, to a lesser extent, race (always there in a southern novel) makes Bastard Out of Carolina such an important contribution to southern literature rather than just a very sad story about an incredibly feckless mother.

A quotation that captures the theme of class and race in the context of southern histo...more
Demisty Bellinger
Aug 22, 2008 Demisty Bellinger rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who liked _Fried Green Tomatoes_ and working class fiction
Recommended to Demisty by: Dr. Nick Spencer, a really neat peson.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ginny Messina
On her web site Dorothy Allison says "What I am here for is to tell you stories you may not want to hear." Bastard Out of Carolina is definitely a hard story to hear.

It is a beautifully-written semi-autobiographical account of a childhood in 1950s-60s South Carolina. The protagonist, nicknamed Bone, is a victim of poverty and physical abuse, including sexual abuse. But she is also part of a big extended family, all of whom are poor, uneducated, loving, and protective. Allison lived this story a...more
jo
Nov 22, 2008 jo rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: trauma
i have no idea why this book gets so much love. the writing is mediocre, the story construction weak-linked, the point fudged by so much nonsense, it's blurry and romanticized and wrapped in cheap tin foil and smelling of county fair cotton candy. and the mistique of class: i like it just as much as i like the mistique of ethnicity, i.e. not at all.
A.M. O'Malley
I just read this for the second time.

When I was still at home, still under his roof. I saw the film adaptation of Bastard Out Of Carolina. We all did; my mother, him, the boys we watched it together in the living room. I laid on the floor in front of the TV and felt all the muscles in my body tense and a hot flush go through me as I watched the story of Bone , the bastard girl. Her mama married a man—after a hard life, he was her second chance—and then her mama stood by as that man hurt Bone. H...more
Dusty Myers
One thing I know for sure is that Bastard out of Carolina is, in the end, a very conservative book. Its focus is on the family. Ruth Anne Boatwright is a girl born the titular bastard to a teenage mother, Annie, and an absent father. The mother remarries after she has another kid with a man who dies, and this man she marries—Daddy Glen—turns out in what has now become a cliche in the memoir/autobionovel genre to be abusive. First it's verbal/emotional, then it becomes physical/sexual. All the wh...more
Kwoomac
4.5 stars

I was warned so I knew what I was getting into but this was a difficult read. I felt like I couldn't take my eyes off a car wreck.Ruth Anne, generally known as Bone, is a believable character. She's not a reliable reporter as she's just a young girl with a child's skewed perspective. But she just felt so real to me. The story follows Bone from about age 5 until the end of her twelfth year.

Allison was actually able to create a whole cast of believable characters. The uncles, loved and a...more
Elaine
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lee
Jul 15, 2009 Lee rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: the pretentious
Shitty book. Not badly written-characters not flat or cardboard. So I really had to ask myself, "Why is this book so bad? Why did I dislike it so much?"

Answer: because it's boring. Sure, stuff happens. It's not logged down with too much detail, or badly executed, or anything like that. The story, the events, the plot itself, is one of the most boring I've ever came across.

We have this little girl. She's born into bad circumstances, and that's okay. But then bad shit happens to her. Again. Again...more
Peachy
The back of your throat burns as anger and hatred bubble over like the pots of fruit for canning on Aunt Raylene’s stove. Excitement and revenge consume you while you seek some semblance of justice through the iron fists of the endearing uncles. You cry until you’re stone-faced and numb, haunted by the sorrow of complete and utter loneliness in a county inundated with kin. Dorothy Allison forces the reader to commiserate with Bone’s anguish and despair as though they were living it. Brutal, hear...more
Jonfaith
Lucinda Williams was the soundtrack for this one. It was swallowed quickly, almost lapped. I felt possessed at times, perhaps sensing some reflections towards my own upbringing. I found the ending elgaic.
Ashley
Don't waste your time on authors who put their therapy on a shelf. It's a sad, depressing story that inspires rage in anyone who reads it; however, at some point I stopped feeling terrible for this girl and started berating her (or the author... it really is autobiographical). No one spends nearly a decade being sexually abused and still questions whether or not what is happening to them is abuse. But that is only the plot (and one small element of the plot that doesn't make sense), the style of...more
Kate Andrews
Okay, it's been a looong time since I read this but I do remember enough to say a few words. It has definitely stuck in my mind in the 10-15+ yrs or so since I originally read it, to the extent that certain aspects/plot points/strengths/etc, are vivid in my memory, which to me, is a huge test that a) it made an impact, b) is good enough that it's extraordinarily memorable and c) considering I still hold it in high regard after so many years, stands the test of time. It's raw, poignant, harrowing...more
Emma
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lisa Mills
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Heather
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mommalibrarian
A young girl tries to make sense of her life with a mom, without her dad, with a step-sister by a dead husband, with lots of very crazy relatives, with extreme poverty, and then with an new abusive stepfather. No conclusions = just that life is complicated. I enjoyed it which seems like a strange thing to say about such a mess as the characters make. I would like to read the sequel to find out what sort of person the girl, Ruth Anne Boatwright, becomes.
Lela
Great book. The characters are so well-drawn and realistic. It has some really great moments as the world is seen through Bone's eyes. Painful, too. Would like more books like this!
Sarah
I read Dorothy Allison's shorter, vignette-like work Two or Three Things I Know for Sure before this, her breakout novel. They tread many of the same themes, both being somewhat autobiographical. This one is somewhat fictionalized, that one invokes a meta-narrative that bridges the gap between growing up as Bone and becoming a feminist writer. Throughout "Two or Three Things" Allison interrupts the narrative with short words of wisdom that she "knows for sure". One sticks with me:

“Two or three t...more
Bethany
I tend to be skeptical when someone tells me that a book changed their life. I found a curriculum materials that talked about this book and how life-changing it was for the teacher who prepared the lesson. Although I didn't find it to be quite the experience she described, it was still an incredible book with complex characters, an engaging plot, and excellent writing.

The book is disturbing, at times, being an account of poverty, prejudice, violence, love and hatred, and family dynamics. Bone is...more
Lee Davis
The only thing I've heard anyone sat about this book is, "Wow, parts are really hard to read," as if it's only a memoir of surviving domestic violence, not also work of literary genius that will make you believe in the power of fiction again. I guess writing candidly about domestic violence is still taboo (or, as some amateur reviewers on this website call it, "cliche"), no matter how much art you wrap it in. This book is still banned from libraries and school curricula. I don't think that many...more
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Dorothy Allison is an American writer, speaker, and member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers. Themes in Allison's work include class struggle, child and sexual abuse, women, lesbianism, feminism, and family.

Allison's first novel, the semi-autobiographical Bastard Out of Carolina, was published in 1992 and was one of five finalists for the 1992 National Book Award.

Allison founded The Independe...more
More about Dorothy Allison...
Trash Cavedweller Two or Three Things I Know for Sure Skin: Talking about Sex, Class and Literature Bastard Out of Carolina / Two or Three Things I Know For Sure

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“Things come apart so easily when they have been held together with lies.” 766 likes
“Everything that comes to us is a blessing or a test. That’s all you need to know in this life…just the certainty that God’s got His eye on you, that He knows what you are made of, what you need to grow on. Why,questioning’s a sin, it’s pointless. He will show you your path in His own good time. And long as I remember that, I’m fine.” 51 likes
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