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Allison Whittenberg

Carnival of Reality: A Collection of Short Stories

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Allison Whittenberg's characters have a lot of soul. They're riled up, outspoken, and sometimes even silent, in which case, they're still saying a lot. They're convincingly alive and they come at you from the page. In this brilliant mid-career collection, Whittenberg's The Carnival of Reality investigates the complexities in human relationships from a decidedly black woman's perspective. In the first engaging story, "Ride the Peter Pan" touches on gender and elements of racial bias. You will root for main character Arna--and her journey as she comes to terms with the aftermath of date rape. In another absorbing story, "Choice" a single mother is faced with a Hobson's choice as she is faced with the possible increase to her family. Her ultimately aching decision is a most realistic one.
Whittenberg's writing is thick with zany and fearless elements in "The Sane Asylum." The humor is there, mingled with the desperation in Lucy, a mother trying desperately to keep her rebellious, head strong son from a conscription notice. Another highlight is "Why Didn't You Call Me, 9/11?" the story of Jean who lives with her mother in a far from the Twin Towers small town. She is in a go nowhere interracial relationship with a commitment phobe engineer and must reckon with her loneliness and her place in the world.

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