Holding Pattern Stories

Jeffery Renard Allen

Graywolf Press




256 Pages



Request Desk Copy Request Exam Copy

The world of Jeffery Renard Allen's stunning short-story collection is a place like no other. A recognizable city, certainly, but one in which a man might sprout wings or copper pennies might fall from the skies. But these are no fairy tales—Allen's sensitivity to the realities of African-American life is assurely contemporary. The protagonists often circle each other with steely determination: a grandson taunts his grandmother, determined to expose her secret past; for years, a woman grows obsessed with tryingto keep a menacing neighbor away from her brother; and in the local police station, an officer and a prisoner try to break each other's resolve. Holding Pattern dazzles, astonishes, and never forgets to entertain—it is a breakout collection by a major American writer.


Praise for Holding Pattern

"The prodigiously talented Jeffery Renard Allen is without question one of our most important writers. His novel, Rails Under My Back, kicked ass, and these tough, beautiful stories are a gift. You cannot finish this collection without being dazzled by Allen's manifold talents."—Junot Díaz

"Best stories in this collection linger—haunted, unique, disturbing—the voices throughout are original, demanding—talk that walks."—John Edgar Wideman

"Jeffery Renard Allen's poetic vision is stunning, tragic, wildly funny and most of all alive. He is the rare writer who, by creating a wholly unique and surreal dreamscape, illuminates, illuminates human reality on the deepest level. He is also the rare writer who borrows from no one and doesn't pander to anyone."—Mary Gaitskill

"Allen melds gritty urban life and magical realism in his first collection (after the novel Rails Under My Back) . . . Allen delivers striking images—two brothers chewing on wads of toilet paper, a scalp that looks like watermelon meat chewed down to the rind. It is these images, rather than particular events or characters, that leave the strongest impressions. Though scattered cultural references and spot-on dialogue root these stories mainly in the present, they have a distinct feeling of being outside of time."—Publishers Weekly

Reviews from Goodreads



  • Jeffery Renard Allen

  • Jeffery Renard Allen is the author of the novel Rails Under My Back and two collections of poetry: Harbors and Spirits and Stellar Places. He has received the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize for Fiction, a Whiting Writers' Award, and the Creative Capital Foundation's grant in Innovative Literature. Born and raised in Chicago, Allen teaches in the Writing Program at the New School in New York City. He lives in Far Rockaway, Queen, with his wife and two children.