A Chagall of Chicago stories
If you haven’t yet heard of Allen,
you will. Junot Diaz and Mary Gaitskill, two of our finest contemporary
fiction writers, are unabashed fans, yelling of this prose surrealist,
“prodigiously talented” (Diaz) and “stunning, tragic, wildly funny”
Though he now lives and teaches in New York City,
Allen’s urban voice remains more a product of his native Chicago, where
the fantastic and miraculous would seem deeply at odds with the Windy
City’s grit and grift. But in Allen’s stories, pennies literally fall
from heaven (“It Shall Be Again”), and prisoners hover about the grey
walls of their cells on tiny absurd wings (“Holding Pattern”), and a
demon child bedevils a reckless businessman (“Shimmy”).
first calling was verse, and his considerable poetic gifts of
observance and language help keep aloft stories that might crash and
burn in lesser hands.