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Trash: Stories

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  4,635 ratings  ·  204 reviews
Trash, Allison's landmark collection, laid the groundwork for her critically acclaimed Bastard Out of Carolina, the National Book Award finalist that was hailed by The New York Times Book Review as "simply stunning...a wonderful work of fiction by a major talent." In addition to Allison's classic stories, this new edition of Trash features "Stubborn Girls and Mean Stories, ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published September 24th 2002 by Penguin Books (first published October 1st 1988)
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Average rating 4.09  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,635 ratings  ·  204 reviews

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Dec 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is where i fell in love with Dorothy Allison - this is where i found a voice like no other and first heard her clear invocation of story as not merely survival but triumph - life itself lived with a degree of accountability that is specific to finding the language with which to face it.
Larry Bassett
This is an amazing book. It is filled with stories. Some stories of brutality that you pray you will never experience and some about the strength of families that you might look for, even hope for.

My first book by Dorothy Allison was Bastard Out of Carolina. I gave it five stars and wanted to read more. It took me six months to pick up the next book. I picked Trash because I like short stories and it is one of Allison’s first published books, maybe the fi
Book Riot Community
While this collection of stories is slim, odds are it’ll take you a few days to trek through. I was confident it was a two-night read, but the gritty, harnessed prose slowed me up and caused it to take about a week. When you read one of Allison’s stories, it takes time to digest. As a reader I was encouraged to dissect each one, but felt as if the job had already been done for me intentionally. Digging for the deeper meaning seems entirely against Allison’s intention, but at the same time is gut ...more
Carl R.
May 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Dorothy Allison is one of my favorite people, even though I don’t know her. I’ve shaken her hand and seen/heard her speak at Squaw Valley and at Tin House, though, and I’ve read enough of her work to know that she is one rare package of compassion, humor, and bitterness. Trash is full of early stories, stories from what she calls her “yellow pages”
in the forward, those pages being a legal pad on which she originally scribbled down recollections of her childhood with no thought of publication. Sh
Amory Blaine
"We are under so many illusions about our powers...illusions that vary with the moon, the mood, the moment. Waxing, we are all-powerful. We are the mother-destroyers, She-Who-Eats-Her-Young, devours her lover, her own heart; great-winged midnight creatures and the witches of legend. Waning, we are powerless. We are the outlaws of the earth, daughters of nightmare, victimized, raped, and abandoned in our own bodies. We tell ourselves lies and pretend not to know the difference. It takes all we ha ...more
Mar 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
1. I grew up watching the movie Bastard Out of Carolina. I was obsessed with it. In 2018 I finally read the book and it was just as good. I love Dorothy Allison’s writing. It’s matter of fact and describes country life perfectly. This book didn’t disappoint. Some of the stories were mentioned in both books but I didn’t even care.
2. I enjoyed the beginning and middle of the book more than the ending.
3. I loved the introduction just as much as the rest of the book.

“ We become what we did not in
Sep 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lgbtq
This is one that I initially read in a writing workshop class in college; my copy ended up going home with a roommate, but the stories stuck with me anyway. It recently popped into my head again, and of course the library had a copy, so I decided it was time for a re-read.

In short, it's a fantastic collection. The stories are hard and unsentimental, often violent and sometimes horrifying, but also surprisingly beautiful at times. Nothing is presented about how things ought to be; it is simply ho
Apr 24, 2019 rated it liked it
Allison is not a writer whose work I read for fun, no. She delves so much in the darker edges of poor Southern life---with its violence, meanness, anger, struggle, and bigotry. Tough people, many of whom work hard and try to keep themselves above water, while so many turn to more destructive choices. Surely part of her appeal (beyond that to the lesbian community) is her willingness to explain what most people choose to ignore. It is hard for me to call these stories fiction (and I know they are ...more
Aug 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Some of the most honest writing I've ever encountered. The choice of characters, the nonlinear ordering, the kind of language that can fill a mouth and be swallowed whole... a medicine book for survivors of family and childhood violence. Not always easy to read, but entirely worth it.
Jan 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: uni
more between 3,5 and 4
«Mama» and «Don’t tell me you don’t know» were amazing and I enjoyed most of the stories that focussed on her family.
Dec 22, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is powerful, intense, moving writing. The introduction alone is a stunning piece of work, describing the author's decision "to live" and to write her stories. It is a testament to the power the creation of literature has to save and sustain a life. The standard frequenty cited to determine whether or not someone is a "real writer" is whether or not that person would write if they knew no one would ever read their work. In Dorothy Allison's case, the choice between writing and not writing is ...more
Sep 17, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dorothy Allison writes in the Southern tradition with a twist--she's a lesbian and she's not ashamed of it, even coming from a dirt poor family that places importance on how many babies you can produce and how well you marry. This slim book is a collection of short memoir narratives that read as if Allison is sitting right in front of you, sipping on sweet tea and smoking a cigarette, while she divulges all of her secrets. Some secrets are raw and painful while others are delightful and sensuous ...more
I thought I was going to give this a 4 but since finishing it I've had that special feeling of calm completion that I only get with really, really good books, so 5 it is. I bloody love Dorothy Allison, I love the way she writes, I especially love the way she writes about sex. I want to read everything she's ever written.
Melisa Resch
Jun 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing
get it. worship dorothy allison. give her overly long and unwanted hugs. ask if you can make a movie about her. pretend you don't mind when she politely refuses. bury your hurt in pulled pork sandwiches.
Tom Thor Buchanan
Dec 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: short, fiction
River of Names and her introduction are worth the price of admission here.
Lyd Havens
Sep 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I've said this about a lot of books recently, but reading this felt truly life-changing.

In the introduction to this collection, Allison talks about how writing these stories was a means of releasing rage she had been carrying around her entire life. These stories are more than just catharsis, though—they are a fight for visibility, for the stories of poor Southerners to be told without caricatures or stereotypes, for survivors to outlive their abusers just by making their survival immortal on t
Jul 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Reading Dorothy Allison has profoundly reconnected me to my roots, to writing, to feeling lust for women in a small town. As a friend described, her writing is "raw but polished" and I couldn't agree more. I've been reading many of her stories out-loud <3

I LOVED the stories "I'm working on my charm" and "Lesbian appetite" most out of this collection, but I truly adore them all.

Favorite character/scene from this book from story "Steal Away" about a girl who is questioned for being poor from her
Conor Ahern
I don't remember how I came across this book, and didn't remember what it was about when I checked it out from the library. It's not for the easily triggered--lots of familial sexual assault, emotional and physical violence, etc. Also lots of lesbian sex, but not rendered in a smutty way. Allison writes really, really well, and she understands people. It did feel a bit like Rubyfruit Jungle in that way, though maybe I just need to read more Southern lesbian semi-autobiography? ...more
Ann Douglas
This collection of short stories by Dorothy Allison is as much a book about writing as it is a book of powerfully written short stories. The book's introduction explains how the author found her voice as a writer and what she has learned about writing and herself since this book was first published. The stories themselves are beautifully written and demonstrate tremendous insights into human relationships.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book. (Each quote has been added to the GoodRe
Graham Wilhauk
Jan 06, 2019 rated it liked it

That was the amount of stories that I thought highly of when I read this. Luckily, one of the stories was a novella that takes up over a quarter of the collection (almost a third). However, it still doesn't save the collection from being just ok. It saves the book from being bad, but it doesn't save it from not being good. I would only recommend if you LOVED "Bastard Out of Carolina." In fact, I may reread that book to see if I still love it. Who knows.

I am giving this one a 3 out of 5 sta
Arielle Milkman
Dec 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A friend passed along this book to me; I read reluctantly, only because it is one of her favorites. But soon Allison's brilliant writing won me over, and I couldn't stop -- because beyond all my inhibitions, her stories made me hungry. This collection is of the sort of visceral prose that shakes its musty scent over everything -- that renders the reader yearning, turned on, repulsed, through it all, wanting more. Allison's hunger, longing, the dislocated desire of young adulthood hold these stor ...more
Dr. Sharada
Nov 13, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Most short story collections, if not all, I've read before contained stories that differed from each other in terms of characters, narrator, and setting. All the stories in Trash are told in Allison's semi-(or more accurately nearly-?)autobiographical voice but they differ in when they happen, where she is and as a result, *who* she is. It was very interesting to see just how different that narrative voice could be, not just as a result of different times or places, but also because of the multi ...more
Mar 21, 2010 rated it liked it
I found the stories compelling. Usually, I dislike writers who only write what they know, but Allison has a rich enough life to pull it off. There are moments when the rawness comes through beautifully, but other times I struggled to follow the story lines. Perhaps they weren't meant to be read as stories. I often found the writing overly informative, rather than descriptive. In other words, it was hard to visualize the surroundings. The voices were so strong, but they seemed to float in space. ...more
Christine Gero
Jul 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
This was a very good group of short stories written by a gay woman who grew up in the south @1950-60's. It was raw and intense. I have never read this author before and was glad to discover her work. I'm now on to another memoir of growing up in the 80's-90's called Hillbilly Elegy. Very different but also a very good look at what it means to grow up in a working class white family in the south/rust belt.
Oct 05, 2007 rated it it was ok
Shelves: short-stories
I could barely get through this book for the same reason it took me three tries before I could sit through all of Schindler's List. It is indeed powerful and gritty, but just so terrifying and sad, especially "River of Names," a basic list of all the horrible things that poverty can drive people to do.
Highly graphic, audacious and twisted, this book of short stories is the precursor to Bastard out of Carolina. Although I didn't enjoy Trash nearly as much as Bastard, I did favour 'Don't Tell Me You Don't Know' and 'I'm Working On My Charm.'

May 06, 2008 rated it really liked it
i just can't ever lose with dorothy allison. over and over again.
Elly Call
Mar 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
As always, I absolutely loved Dorothy Allison’s visceral and delicious writing—literally, her descriptions of sex and food are mouth watering. The only reason I don’t give this book five stars is that some of the writing in these stories directly appeared verbatim in Bastard Out Of Carolina and while the writing is ingenious (I loved that book) I wanted new material. So, a relatively petty criticism but there it is.

Demon Lover and A Lesbian Appetite were two of my favorites and though I haven’t
Vel Veeter
Dec 06, 2017 rated it liked it
So Dorothy Allison is something else. For one, this book screams 1980s! And that’s not a bad thing at all, but it does place it pretty firmly in a time and place. Dorothy Allison writes about the SOUTH, like the SOOOOOOOOUTH. And unlike bullshit artists like JD Vance, any politician, and many many male writers, she doesn’t give a shit about your economic anxiety. Her collection is not all that different from Doris Betts in that same way. Guess what’s worse than economic anxiety of white men? Bei ...more
Jun 13, 2019 rated it liked it
Supposedly this book was written as a response to another author who tried to define the trash of the South. Allison’s response was Trash, which (as I understand) hoped to redefine trash. I went into this book expecting so much, but ultimately got very little. Allison’s trash tales are unique to her particular experience, which is fine. But to be upset about how somebody is narrowly defining trash, all the while only giving one person’s perspective of trash, is hypocritical. While I think Alliso ...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

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“I did things I did not understand for reasons I could not begin to explain just to be in motion, to be trying to do something, change something in a world I wanted desperately to make over but could not imagine for myself.” 62 likes
“Piece by piece, my mother is being stolen from me.” 36 likes
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