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Good Books: Allyson Whipple on Roadtrips & Realizations

Allyson Whipple is the director of the Austin Feminist Poetry Festival and vice president of Austin Poetry Society. Her poetry chapbook, We're Smaller Than We Think We Are, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2013. Allyson teaches at Austin Community College, and in her spare time is pursuing a black belt in Kung Fu. You can read more about her at

Allyson Whipple suggests books on roadtrips and realizations:

The Chaneysville Incident
by David Bradley

I wrote about this novel for my honors thesis in college, and its power has never left me. History professor John Washington returns to his hometown to tend to the dying Jack Crawley, a friend of his late father’s. Over the course of the novel, John becomes obsessed with working out the mystery of his own father’s death. The physical journey in this book is short, but the mental travels, and the revelation that results, are challenging and long. This is a book not just about revelation, but about family, memory, and the ways in which history runs much deeper than what is found in textbooks and newspaper reports.

by Sandra Cisneros

This lyrical novel bounces us between Mexico and Chicago, the story of a family and what they endure on both sides of the border. Lala Reyes and her family make the long drive from Chicago to Mexico City to visit the Awful Grandmother. But the Awful Grandmother has had her own share of struggles and painful epiphanies. This is about family stories and family secrets, as well as history, ethnicity, and the painful difficulties one faces when crossing into different lands.  

Codex of Journeys: Bendito Camino
by Liliana Valenzuela

You don’t need to be fluent in Spanish to appreciate Valenzuela’s bilingual chapbook. This collection is small in size, but it is nonetheless vast in scope, with poems that take us all the way from Texas to Ghana (with other stops in between). This collection explores borders and issues of race and gender, interrogates injustice, and also celebrates culture and self.



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