Allison, a self-proclaimed feminist activist, lesbian, writer, and teacher, came from a dirt-poor white family in South Carolina. Her origins inform and permeate these essays (as well as her autobiographical novel, Bastard Out of Carolina, LJ 3/1/92, which reflects much of the subject matter here). Ultimately, though, this collection is really more about the author's intimate feelings regarding the relation of her sexuality to her self-concept and society than about class and literature. In the two dozen essays, Allison addresses topics such as moving into a mixed neighborhood with her lover, discussing her lifestyle with female prisoners or a college class, and lesbian fiction and erotica. Allison is fiercely honest and fearless when describing a sometimes marginalized life among people who reject or patronize her because of her class or sexuality. Some patrons may be uncomfortable with by the explicit sexual descriptions. Recommended for women's and gay studies collections.-Janice Braun, Hoover Institution Lib., Stanford, Cal.
"Skin" is the story of what happened to the girl who grew up from that past, and it draws blood from a lot of questions that typically get pathetic or disingenuous treatment from conservatives and liberals alike. Indeed, the tautness of Ms. Allison's storytelling comes from her ability to describe cruelty and desperate measures with such grace that it leaves a sensual impression unmistakable to the literary touch. -- New York Times