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Two or Three Things I Know for Sure

Genre: Women's Studies, Memoir; Author: Dorothy Allison; Publisher: Dutton Adult

”I tell stories to prove I was meant to survive,” writes Dorothy Allison in this slim memoir. Poetic and allusive rather than chronological, Two or Three Things I Know For Sure touches on Allison’s sexual abuse as a child, her tangled family, and her lesbianism — themes that drove her best-selling autobiographical novel, Bastard Out of Carolina. Because the book declines to sort out childhood truths from literary fictions, it may frustrate readers in search of a tell-all: Allison mentions seeing her abusive stepfather at her mother’s recent funeral but not how she felt about him. She doesn’t even discuss her decision to have a child or how it’s changed her life. Focusing instead on her writing as a lifeline, Allison eloquently reveals as much about her art as her past, at times tapping into an unexpected — and not entirely welcome — vein of righteousness that’s absent from her fiction. A-

Originally posted August 4 1995 — 12:00 AM EDT

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