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Preston L. Allen

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Churchboys and Other Sinners
by Preston L. Allen   

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Category: 

Literary Fiction

ISBN-10:  0932112447 Type: 
Pages: 

152

Copyright:  Jan 1, 2003 ISBN-13:  9780932112446
Fiction

A collection of stories--winner of the Sonja H. Stone Prize in Fiction

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The Ing and Bling Book Review

All of the stories center around the themes of God, church, and child, but quite a few of them are linked around the central characters Elwyn (the 16-year old chuchboy and piano prodigy) and Sister Morrisohn (his 40 plus year old clandestine lover). Like Elwyn and Sister Morrisohn, the characters in each of the other stories must create for themselves new definitions of good and evil in order to reclaim their innocences after each has eaten his/her own version of the forbidden fruit. The damaged beauty queen, the juvenile delinquent longing for a father's love, the slacker college student pondering democracy, the gay man turned hyper macho bully, the bluesman caught in a near-tragic oedipal affair with his musical daughter: each a former optimist struggling to survive in a world he/she is forced to see with new eyes. 


Excerpt

"I love you Sister Morrisohn, I mean Elaine."



Professional Reviews

Rawsistaz Reviewers
Allen illustrates life lessons with a moralistic tilt in his collection of short stories. Many readers will find this book to be an enjoyable read and those new to this genre may be intrigued by his cast of characters. I especially enjoyed the stories that featured the religiously-correct Elwyn; I would take pleasure in a full length novel on his story alone. CHURCHBOYS AND OTHER SINNERS makes a great train ride read. The stories are brief and meaningful and leave the reader satisfied.


Black Star Review
admit that I had never heard of Preston L. Allen before, and that I was dubious about this collection of short stories from him. Short stories are a notoriously tricky territory, in many ways they demand more from the writer than fully fledged novels do. But I have to say that I was just plain wrong, and that I went very quickly from fearing the worst to wanting more.

'Is Randy Roberts There?', the piece that opens this anthology is in many ways the weakest of the stories. Perhaps it's because the central character is a female, while interesting it just failed to grab me as much as the pieces that follow. However, like all the stories, it is set in the South of the United States and is about day to day life in black communities.

Young black men are the central protagonists of the rest of the short stories, from the surly kid sneaking out of class to meet an older woman in 'Get Some' to the linked series of stories about Elwyn - from piano playing prodigy to Christian zealot to used-car salesman. The characters are convincing, as are the situations they find themselves in. Allen has a knack of getting us into the heads of his characters, and this is good because these are not the young black men you'll see on the news. Their lives are more ordinary, their concerns more real and that makes them, and their stories, interesting. Church and family loom large, school and relationships - with women and with other black men - are central.

I had expected the worst, fearing a fiction that was about 'issues', but Preston L. Allen has done a greater service by writing about a world that is hidden from the mainstream.

This is one title that is highly recommended.




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