At a reading not long ago, award-winning author Dorothy Allison (Bastard out of Carolina, Trash, The Women Who Hate Me) smiled in that knowing Southern way and told the audience, "I'ma fuck you up."
The crowd laughed, but underneath the breezy sentiment lay the startling truth: She does fuck you up -- brutally, irrevocably, magnificently -- and sometimes all those ways at once.
For Allison, the pen isn't a sword so much as a bludgeon, a relentless reckoning of heaped up terrible moments that make you want to die and then say thank you for the privilege of witnessing the carnage.
But she's also funny. We fondly recall her essay involving herself and a gay male poet casually shoving mini carrots up their rectums (You have to read it).
Allison reads and talks Saturday with Karen Joy Fowler, who's no stranger to awards herself; her novel The Jane Austen Book Club was a New York Times Notable Book, and Sister Noon was a PEN/Faulker finalist. Listening to these literary powerhouses has an added philanthropy bonus: All proceeds go to the Hedgebrook Foundation, an organization that supports and cultivates female writers.
Dorothy Allison and Karen Joy Fowler read at 5 p.m. Dec. 1 at Hotel Rex, 562 Sutter (at Powell), S.F. Admission is $15-$20.