Holding Pattern: Stories

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9781555975098: Holding Pattern: Stories
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The world of Jeffery Renard Allen's stunning short-story collection is a place like no other. A recognizable city, certainly, but one in which a man might sprout wings or copper pennies might fall from the skies onto your head. Yet these are no fairy tales. The hostility, the hurt, is all too human.

The protagonists circle each other with steely determination: a grandson taunts his grandmother, determined to expose her secret past; for years, a sister tries to keep a menacing neighbor away from her brother; and in the local police station, an officer and prisoner try to break each other's resolve.

In all the stories, Allen calibrates the mounting tension with exquisite timing, in mesmerizing prose that has won him comparisons with Joyce and Faulkner. Holding Pattern is a captivating collection by a prodigiously talented writer.

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About the Author:

JEFFERY RENARD ALLEN is the author of the novel Rails Under My Back and two collections of poetry. Allen was born and raised in Chicago. He teaches creative writing at Queens College/CUNY, and his awards include a Whiting Award.

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*Starred Review* Whiting Award winner Allen’s distinctive and potent debut, the novel Rails under My Back (1999), aligned him with the likes of Toni Morrison and John Edgar Wideman, and his first short story collection is equally powerful. Profoundly interiorized and subtly otherworldly, each tale is electric with the rising tension that proceeds stormy weather; each tale is a veritable boxing match, as characters trapped in impossible situations feint, jab, and retreat. A number of tales are relayed through the questioning mind of various characters named Hatch. Young Hatch watches his mother like a hawk, surmises that his grandmother is a phony, and spies on his brother, Cosmo. There is much to mull over about race, poverty, language, lies, desperation, and liberation as Allen assembles just the right sensuous and psychological details to bring into focus a city resembling Chicago and a brooding southern setting. Extreme cold and heat, family strife, troubles over money and sex, all is in play, all is mysterious, dangerous, and urgent. With pitch-perfect dialogue and centrifugal force, Allen’s stories pull you down into the misery of the daily hustle and spit you out on the lonely crossroads between reality and myth, where the archetypes roam and trust is but a dream. --Donna Seaman

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