Read Cavedweller by Dorothy Allison Online


When Delia Byrd packs her car and begins the long trip home from Los Angeles - from the glamour of the rock 'n roll business, her passion for singing and songwriting, and the darker days of whisky and violence and too much belief in the promises of a man she loved - she heads to Cairo, Georgia, and her own unresolved past. Ten years earlier, Delia left the husband who turnWhen Delia Byrd packs her car and begins the long trip home from Los Angeles - from the glamour of the rock 'n roll business, her passion for singing and songwriting, and the darker days of whisky and violence and too much belief in the promises of a man she loved - she heads to Cairo, Georgia, and her own unresolved past. Ten years earlier, Delia left the husband who turned on her, abandoned her two daughters, one an infant, and fled to California. But Delia is pulled back to Georgia: to a world of convenience stores and biscuit factories, kudzu and deep-rooted Baptism-to make a deal with the man she paid a high price to leave. She brings her third daughter, Cissy, with her. And as the lives of Delia, Cissy, Amanda, and Dede converge, Delia's past uncoils into the present with a ferocity that brings all four women to terms with themselves and with one another.Told in the incantatory and unforgettable voice of one of America's greatest storytellers, Cavedweller is a sweeping novel of the human spirit that maps a world of "lost" and "known" caves, the unexplored recesses of the heart, and the lives of four women at a place where violence, and what redeems it, intersect. Cavedweller is the long-awaited, greatly anticipated second novel from a beloved author with a strong and loyal audience....

Title : Cavedweller
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780452279698
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 434 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Cavedweller Reviews

  • Saleh MoonWalker
    2018-11-08 12:03

    Onvan : Cavedweller - Nevisande : Dorothy Allison - ISBN : 452279690 - ISBN13 : 9780452279698 - Dar 434 Safhe - Saal e Chap : 1998

  • Grace
    2018-10-31 07:00

    I love and admire Dorothy Allison. Both her non-fiction work (Skin, Two or Three Things I Know for Sure) and her fiction (Trash, Bastard out of Carolina) is extremely impressive on an intellectual level, as well as deeply moving on a gut level. So I expected no less from Cavedweller, her second novel. And I'm sure it is only because I went in to reading it with such very high expectations that it was disappointing.Cavedweller is a very good book. It's just not as good a book as Allison's other books. The story, which follows the childhood of Cissy, who moves at a young age from Los Angeles to Cayro, Georgia with her mother, Delia, a recovering alcoholic and faded second-tier rock singer, doesn't hurt the way Bone's story in Bastard out of Carolina does. Though you are alternately in love with and pissed off by Delia, she doesn't spark the kind of pity and fury Bone's mother, Anney, does. Like in Bastard, the women in Cavedweller are strong and hard and more than a little bit crazy, and then men, both good and bad, are a little bit weak and simple. There is more room for forgiveness for that weakness and simplicity in Cavedweller, though, which may speak to Allison's greater maturity when she wrote it. The moral universe is not quite so black and white. But what it loses in clarity also makes it less compelling.Bastard out of Carolina, is, to my mind, the kind of novel that someone writes only once. Like To Kill a Mockingbird, it is the novel that takes the other novels out of you. Given that, I think it was brave of Allison to write Cavedweller at all. Still, it's a sophomore novel, and it reads like one (albeit a particularly good one). Farther, probably, from Allison's personal essays than any of her other fiction, it loses something as it moves away from her. The characters in it that seem the most familiar (the wild and pained Dede in particular) are the strongest elements.Should you read Cavedweller? Absolutely. You should just read all of Allison's other work first.

  • Molly
    2018-11-15 05:11

    This book was difficult to digest, but maybe that was for the same reason that it was so entrancing. Cavedweller is a book about women. Several generations of women who are all tied to a central character who, you realize as the book unfolds, had to make difficult choices. But, I related, or at least sympathized. What would you do if you had children with an abusive husband? What would you do when the next husband was a drug and alcohol addict? The story begins in the turmoil after she had made all of these decisions. So, the real questions tackled in this novel are: can you make good out of actions you've already taken? And particularly for women: how do you please everyone while still honoring yourself? In the end Cavedweller navigates dark tunnels and bright openings in a binding narrative that lasts nearly 400 pages. We then find that family is as much about friends as it is about relatives. That forgiveness is but one small piece of reckoning your past, but nonetheless a first step into that abyss of building relationships.

  • Jenny
    2018-11-08 13:11

    I had never heard of Dorothy Allision before, but I am so glad that I know of her now. I think she is a really smart author with important things to say. I started out really loving this book and not being able to put it down. Unfourtunately, towards the end I felt like the plot kind of fell apart and things began to get cheesy and predictable, almost like Allison had run out of creative steam. It is a very epic novel, in that it covers a long period of time, and the characters really go on a journey and end up totally different people than they are when the reader first meets them. Overall I would say that despite the slight deterioration in plot, I still really enjoyed this book and would recommend it.

  • Gretel
    2018-11-19 08:51

    I love Dorothy Allison's stories. I love the strong women she brings to life, the contexts she weaves around them, and her writing's descriptive power. I took a long time to finish this book, mostly because I didn't want to say goodbye to Delia and her girls. I found the spelunking passages especially compelling.

  • Sarah Beth
    2018-11-13 07:00

    Ten years before, Delia Byrd left behind her abusive husband Clint and her two baby girls Amanda and Dede to follow the aspiring rockstar Randall. Randall and Delia find fame, alcoholism, and have a baby girl together, Cissy. After Randall drinks himself into an early grave, Delia packs up her youngest daughter and leaves California to return to Georgia to try to make amends for abandoning her two oldest daughters. After Delia gets her girls back, the thread of the novel seems to split into five separate directions. Delia fixes hair, Amanda becomes a good Christian wife and mother, Dede pursues her angst and love of driving, and Cissy seeks out the thrill and darkness to be found in caves. The plot seemed meandering and lost, split in multiple strands that could each be their own book. The women agree that they aren't "the type" (388) to talk and share their feelings. Cissy describes it as "the family connection that seemed so tenuous" (282). Still, it felt as if the women were never reconciled and lacking connection for most of the novel. The women find that they cannot fix their past, but in the end of the novel, they seem to all be limping towards a brighter future, one with a minimum of heartbreak, rage, and abuse. This novel was good. However, after reading Allison's Bastard Out of Carolina, it paled in comparison. However, that being said, Allison does tragedy and heartbreak fiction incredibly well, and there were many lines that caught my eye: "Delia's memories of that moment were as golden and smoky as two inches of whiskey in a thick tumbler" (14); "Maybe that was the way music really worked, Cissy thought. Maybe talent was a blade cutting hard through those who had less" (257); and "When Nolan played for her, Cissy felt like a Baptist child at a Catholic mass - intimidated, awed, and suspicious" (260).

  • mia
    2018-11-17 12:13

    really probably 2 1/2. and i genuinely thought for awhile about giving it 3 stars, but i just couldn't do it. where i talk about dorothy allison:i thought Bastard Out of Carolina was amazing. this last book of hers that i read was NOT. and i don't know if i can gague an author opinion on two books. i obviously have to read another one to make a tie breaker. ugh. the book just flat out annoyed me. it was full of tangent after tangent. and it would be one thing if the book was following a FAMILY which it tried to do. but did not do successfully. because you can't just go through at least half of the book on one person and then blah blah blah every other chapter on someone else and then only get back to the original main character during the last chapter??!! and there were more than just typos in the latter half. there were misnamings of people. like CLIFF instead of CLINT. and that just annoys me. you should know your characters well enough at that point to get it right and your editor should catch that shit. ugh. i just couldn't wait for it to END. i could have stopped reading it i guess. but i was almost 300 pages in. christ. and maybe i should give it 3 stars. but i just don't want to. it was like part of it was better and deserves more stars and some of it deserves none. the descriptions got on my nerves after awhile. and the title doesn't even come from anything that happens in the book with what i view as the main character. just GAH.

  • Kat Masek
    2018-11-17 10:17

    I liked this novel, and I wanted to liked it more than I did. It is ambitious, and the plot line has a strange shape because Allison tries to do so much, I guess. Perhaps I haven't quite figured it out, and maybe I won't because I don't think it's completely successful. Though the title is "Cavedweller" in the singular, only one of the main characters, one of the protagonist Delia's daughters becomes a spelunker. So surely the author must be referring to Delia, as well. And the characters in the family Allison depicts are all so tight-jawed, have such difficulty expressing emotion, that they are all cave dwellers. The scenes in which they force themselves, finally, to speak a few words of their histories, their emotions, or their truths, are few. And I found Allison's physical characterizations of her family members to be somewhat repetitive and awkward: one rubbing her neck, or the hollows in her cheek, etc. And yet, I found in the days after I read this novel, I thought back to it frequently. It's a world of long-suffering, stoicism, hard work, hard-won success, a few faithful friends, and not much else to look forward to.

  • Miriam
    2018-11-08 06:06

    I liked the rhythm of this one. I liked the characters.Overall, it's a bit choppy. Any one of the threads--the drive across the country, caring for Clint, Dede and Nolan, Cissy and the cave--could have been a whole novel. She doesn't dwell too long on any one incident or story (kind of like Delia!). There's a lot of death and despair and mistakes and betrayal, and all of it described really well and carefully. It's not rushed, but she doesn't linger.Sometimes people aren't perfect. They make mistakes. They have bad luck. They make poor choices. They get stuck in a bad situation. They have needs and addictions that hurt them and others. Maybe things don't always come right in the end, but there are chances to keep trying, to be compassionate, to be patient, to think out what you want.Overall, this is an interesting portrayal of women's circumscribed choices--the ways in which women cope with what life throws at them.

  • Kevin
    2018-11-15 06:18

    I loved Bastard Out of Carolina when I read it years ago in college, then really devoured Trash (short stories), Skin (critical theory) and at least loved the title of her poetry book, "The Women Who Hate Me." I bought Cavedweller in 1998, then promptly put it down after two pages.Picked it up again last week. It's fine. Crafted like a page-turner, which it is and I know it was a bestseller, but it just left me disappointed. (Don't get me started on fears that if I read Bastard now I'll feel that way...I don't think so. I might not respond to the plot as readily as I did then, but i remember the writing was really really really wonderful.) Anyway, this has a promising start, really hot-metal-in-the-sun fast, then meanders from character to character and becomes, this is mean, a little Women of Brewster Place meets Fannie Flagg.Oh that's awful to say. But I did.

  • Lfineberg
    2018-11-07 05:12

    I read this book late into the night because I found the characters fascinating (yet frustrating), and wanted to know what was going to happen next. There were parts at the end that kind of dragged, so it took me longer to read than most books, but overall it was a great story about how people cope with various life events. Although it wasn't the central focus, these lives were examples of how a tragedy and/or tragedies in the lives of young people, when not addressed, can recreate themselves in many forms (but also that stories can end better than they start).

  • Hannah
    2018-11-04 07:04

    Somehow didn't enter this one back when I read it, but I love-love-loved it. This piece, I thought, was how I feel about the ocean:"Caving for her, Cissy understood, was like sex for most people. Though what other people thought about sex was nothing Cissy really understood. But in the dark she became for the first time fully conscious of her own body and curiously unself-conscious. Unseen, she moved freely. In the dark her body moved precisely, steadily, each foot placed exactly, while her hips rocked loosley on the pistons of her thighs."

  • Kat B.
    2018-11-01 04:53

    Dorthy Allison is amazing. Her writing builds a believable world full of interesting characters. Her knack for dialogue that reads like real conversation is admirable. This story spreads across the span of about 10 years. While developing characters she manages to move the story along through events and problems that kept me hooked. The ending was one of my favorites. Definitely recommend!!!

  • Nomy
    2018-11-17 05:56

    the thing i really loved about this book is the way she showed the characters going through profound life changes and basically becoming different people. that's something that happens in real life that you don't usually get to see in novels.

  • Melody Ulrich
    2018-11-05 11:11

    After being floored and inspired by Bastard out of Carolina, I was seriously disappointed by the contrived mood of this book. Allison is trying too hard and almost forces these characters on the reader.

  • Doriana Bisegna
    2018-10-28 11:02

    I was really enjoying this book by about pg 300 and then I just felt that it went on and on and on! I had planned to give it a 4 star rating but the length started to grate on my nerves. All in all a very good story about a dysfunctional family but just a tad too long!

  • Tabatha
    2018-11-13 12:16

    There was a little too much religion in this book for my taste. That would have been entirely fine but it's not what I was looking for. There was also too much random information about stuff that just didn't matter. That being said it was just an ok read.

  • Julie
    2018-10-22 08:15

    Having a hard time putting it his down!

  • Anders
    2018-11-14 06:19

    This starts with a compelling idea, but Allison gets lost in the tangential elements of the narrative.

  • Jen
    2018-11-06 12:07

    I should have read Bastard Out Of Carolina first. Well, I’m a rebel. One who listens to the worst reviewed albums of artists, watches the camp classics of actor’s shame, and reads books out of the 'intended' sequence of an author's cache. It’s what I do. Still there is always a 50/50 percent chance that the unsung work is better than the touted one, so I gave Cavedweller a go. I've read some of Dorothy Allison’s work before, like her essays and her short story "I'm Working On My Charm, and I find her a wonderful and descriptive writer (and she's a Southern gal, yay!), so I knew what I was getting into.Cavedweller is a solid three for me. It’s good...and not so good. The best thing about this book is that it is about women. All kinds of women, young, old, white, Black, conventional, and non-conventional, it’s a diverse clash of generations and personalities and it’s great. Delia Byrd is the head of the litter of headstrong women Allison has crafted. She was a once-Janis Joplin-esque singer for a semi-known rock band, who goes back to her hometown of Cayro, Georgia to claim her two daughters after her bandmate and lover, Randall is killed in a motorcycle accident. Along for the ride is her third child, daughter Cissy, who is mourning the loss of her father and is surly about the catatonic drunkard that is her mother. Like a bat out of hell, Delia comes flying into Cayro, but the dust doesn't settle as Delia is swept up in the army that is herself, and she must face it all in the guise of the young girls she abandoned. Allison writes Cavedweller like an epic rock n’ roll anthem, as it sways, swings, moans, crawls, bites, sweats and gasps for air. Every bit of angst is felt in the rhythm of Delia as she tries to rebuild herself, mending the relationship with her daughters, her grandfather, her disapproving ex-mother-in-law, and forms personal peace with the husband she left behind, a now cancer stricken hard ass named Clint. The first sentence is the novel's thesis --- death is the center of everything here. Things and people die out and evolve, and die out again, a cycle that is cleansing and soiling all in one. The years pass, Delia and her daughters fuss, fight, and grow through what appears to be a decade and a half. We bear witness to how humans cope with their pain, how they wrestle and get penned by their inner demons and past, learning the sad truth that we don't always shake these things off, they are tattooed on us. Yet in the end, we just learn how to better grit our teeth for the pain, becoming numb and stronger to fight for another day. All of this is the unflinching realism Dorothy Allison fluidly captures here, and it fantastically bleeds out between the lines.Still the problem with Cavedweller is that is meanders too damn much. It plays up its drunk and drugged out rock n’ roll anthem motif, feeling every bit like those 15-minute long songs that are meant for coating the mouth with whiskey and then smoking a joint and letting it all go. But Allison doesn't make it easy to listen in on this brood. Lots of characters are introduced and then dropped, their stories never resolved, their characters never given the space to really blossom. The girls grow up too fast. Years are skipped over and never defined so you feel the lost of time greatly. As she rebuilds, Delia strikes up a relationship with Emmett, the town's deputy, and then it’s only explained in two pages how Emmett’s wife died, then jump to like two more chapters and we get one measly line to say that their relationship didn't work...well what happened?! More disappointing is how Delia was this engaging character in the beginning, but by the middle she’s barely mentioned and her interactions with Clint and her daughters are paltry at best. I just didn't see her interacting with them that much for there to be any sort of massive redemption, esp. with Clint as he was a strong, intriguing character that got pushed to background status. I understand that forgiveness is hard to do, and I didn't need for Delia to forgive a man who caused her so much pain, but their relationship just isn't defined and it felt incomplete to me, like something was missing.(view spoiler)[Even worse, when Clint dies, the story seems to die with him as we aimlessly wander around after that. (hide spoiler)]Too many repetitive and overwritten passages are present by the middle towards the end, and it all makes me wonder where the heck was Allison’s editor. For example, Cissy's friend Nolan loves his clarinet and Cissy's half-sister Dede, but do I need pages upon pages about it? (view spoiler)[Him getting shot by Dede brought some excitement, but their relationship became just terribly nauseating and almost unrealistic by the end. (hide spoiler)]Cissy’s desire for spelunking (which is where the book’s title is explained) is also really heavy-handed. It's not hard to understand that Cissy going into the deep caves with her two friends and looking for that ethereal salvation at the end is a metaphor for Cissy connecting with herself, getting over the grief of losing her father, and finding understanding with her mother, but even though Allison wrote some beautiful passages, it was overly tedious to read about rock climbing, and things got real repetitive after a while that when the intense finale came I couldn't wait for it to end. Personally, I would've preferred for Cissy and Delia to go into the caves together because from the first page they were on the rocks, but by novel’s end I felt that Delia and Cissy were even more so strangers who just happened to be related to each other. Maybe that's life, we don't always connect with the people we're geared to love, but it just felt hollow and unsatisfying.I don’t mind long and lengthy books, or lots of characters, and I don't need to be spoon fed details, but there is too much brevity here for such a large book. It just felt like Alison ran out of creative steam and was throwing things out, hoping they'd stick by book's end. Cavedweller while brimming with interesting characters and relatable situations, just had a hard time ending, and I understand that Allison felt passionately about these characters (and I always applaud her for having characters that are the overlooked underdogs) but this book needed to have tighter editing and more fleshed out characters for it to really hit that bittersweet spot.

  • Megan
    2018-11-05 08:02

    After reading this book I am unsure of how to feel. There were so many subplots to keep up with and unfinished. The pain, sorrow, and just the life the characters experience draw you in and you have to know what happens to them all. You have the eldest daughter who remembers her mom who ran away, the second born who doesn't remember her at all and just hears stories about her abandonment, and the youngest who has the most time with her and hates her. It is an honest and ugly look at how poor life can be sometimes. It is about the truths people are scared to show to everyone but in reality they are the ones that shaped them the most.

  • Eva Silverfine
    2018-10-25 08:09

    There is no doubt that Dorothy Allison has the ability to create diverse characters with engaging backstories. At times it seems the novel embraces too many of them, and I felt the author deliberately set out to write a big, southern family saga. Despite at times finding repetitive wording (that did not illuminate the subject further) and not understanding her characters’ motivations, the novel drew me in and I stayed up too late reading it. And perhaps most importantly, the night I finished it I had rich dreams that were no doubt inspired by the novel.

  • Liza
    2018-10-24 07:10

    This was a slow read for me, I started once then stopped, then went back but felt like I was dragging my heels through most of it. I love Dorothy Allison's memoirs, essays and poetry, but this felt a bit mediocre. Not all the time - there were moments of great feeling - but I don't feel like it hung together completely. I worried that I was judging this book more harshly because I love her other stuff so much, but I think if I'd read the book and it'd been by someone else I would be giving a similar review.

  • Jan
    2018-11-11 11:17

    I sort of stumbled over this book at the library and grabbed it because I remembered how good "Bastard out of Carolina" was. This was not as good, but I enjoyed her characters even though I wear out on southern literature every 5 years or so and give it a break.It seemed that I never got to stay with one character long enough to really get a read on her, and toward the end things sort of unraveled, with the cave drama, the unlikely shooting, and so forth.

  • Megan Kirby
    2018-10-25 11:20

    Reading this book felt like breathing--something effortless and essential. Allison's writing just rings in me. It makes me write really flowery, overwrought descriptions in my reviews. Her women are so real, their voices ring so true. But, but, oh it pains me: The ending of this book was so truly terrible. I can't think of any other times where a book disappointed me so much--probably because I enjoyed it all the way until it fell apart.

  • Morgan Lovell
    2018-11-22 09:55

    This book was written in the type of prose that shows the author tried VERY HARD to be a poetic voice. The attempt was a poor one, because every character had soulful, deep, poetic and meaningful things to share, rather than just one or two main characters.It has a realistic, touching plot, but is written in a way that I found difficult to digest.

  • Rosanne Munt
    2018-10-31 10:21

    I loved 'Bastard Out of Carolina', so I wanted/expected to at least like Cavedweller but I just didn't. I didn't care about the characters. They were flat. I didn't care about the plot. It was predictable in one sense and unbelievable in another. I finished the book but was glad when it was over.

  • Anne
    2018-10-27 08:20

    I remember reading *Bastard Out of Carolina* years ago and loving the freshness of Allison's voice and perspective. *Cavedweller* was similar for me in how quickly I became engaged in the characters and story lines.

  • Courtney Trouble
    2018-11-09 12:12

    I had to put this book down for a few years, I don't know if I'll be able to pick it up again. I love Dorothy, but I felt punched in the face by the amount of alcohol in the first chapter and I realized while reading that I might be done with booze-burdened narratives.

  • Malia Moriarty
    2018-10-26 08:08

    This story was a nice change of pace. gripping, interesting, and meaningful