Author: Roxane Gay

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Difficult Women Review

February 15, 2017 Reviews 0 ★★★★

Difficult Women ReviewDifficult Women by Roxane Gay
on January 3rd 2017
Pages: 260
Source: Netgalley
Also by this author: Bad Feminist
Buy on AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Book Depository
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four-stars

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Award-winning author and powerhouse talent Roxane Gay burst onto the scene with An Untamed State—which earned rave reviews and was selected as one of the best books of the year by the Washington Post, NPR, the Boston Globe, and Kirkus—and her New York Times bestselling essay collection Bad Feminist (Harper Perennial). Gay returns with Difficult Women, a collection of stories of rare force and beauty, of hardscrabble lives, passionate loves, and quirky and vexed human connection.
The women in these stories live lives of privilege and of poverty, are in marriages both loving and haunted by past crimes or emotional blackmail. A pair of sisters, grown now, have been inseparable ever since they were abducted together as children, and must negotiate the marriage of one of them. A woman married to a twin pretends not to realize when her husband and his brother impersonate each other. A stripper putting herself through college fends off the advances of an overzealous customer. A black engineer moves to Upper Michigan for a job and faces the malign curiosity of her colleagues and the difficulty of leaving her past behind. From a girls’ fight club to a wealthy subdivision in Florida where neighbors conform, compete, and spy on each other, Gay delivers a wry, beautiful, haunting vision of modern America reminiscent of Merritt Tierce, Jamie Quatro, and Miranda July.

So this was a rating that I really struggled with. I feel like Roxane Gay is a wonderful writer who can do absolutely no wrong. Anytime I read something by her, I automatically want to read more and more from her. Seriously though, I google her to see what blog posts she’s written that I haven’t read yet. In other words, I will read her grocery list and be totally satisfied with it. On the other hand, this was a bit of a it’s me, not you situation. A lot of the times I picked it up, I wasn’t really in the mood to read these stories. A lot of Gay’s fiction stories are pretty dark and can be hard to get through. I think that you have to be the kind of person who doesn’t mind reading difficult subject matter. The writing is absolutely beautiful, but some of the content was hard for me to personally push through.

I’m so conflicted with this rating because I think it’s good to be made uncomfortable from stories. I don’t think that all stories should be these happy tales filled with perfect people. Roxane Gay is so fascinating because she takes broken people and displays it in such a real and heartbreaking way. She doesn’t sugarcoat anything, she gives us the raw truth. I applaud her for doing this in such an unfiltered fashion. She’s a remarkable writer, that’s something that no one can deny.

Some of the stories completely punched me in the gut. Some of them sucked me in and made me want far more pages than what we had. Some of the other stories seemed to drag on a bit and I wasn’t sure where the story was going. A couple of the stories had such horrific events going on one after the other that I was just ready for something good to happen to the characters. But like I mentioned earlier, not all things are happy, and a lot of terrible things do happen so I’m glad that Gay isn’t afraid to include these things. I also feel like sometimes there’s a limit of how much darkness you want to read. That being said, I think you need to be well prepared for a dark book and I really wasn’t at that time so it was hard to push through. Some of my personal favorite stories were I Will Follow You, The Mark of Cain, Break All The Way Down, Best Features, The Sacrifice of Darkness, and Strange Gods.

In the end, I decided to give Difficult Women four stars. I enjoyed more stories than I disliked. There was only about three stories that I didn’t really relate to or understand. Though this is a heavy book filled with some dark subject matter like sexual violence, kidnapping, miscarriages, death, and gang rape, it’s also a beautifully written book. It took me awhile to read it, but I’m still glad that I stuck it out until the very end. Gay isn’t capable of writing a bad book and this was no exception. I can’t wait for Hunger to come out later this year.

four-stars

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Bad Feminist Review

October 30, 2016 Reviews 0 ★★★★

Bad Feminist ReviewBad Feminist by Roxane Gay
Published by Harper Perennial on August 5th 2014
Pages: 320
Source: Library
Also by this author: Difficult Women
Buy on AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Book Depository
Goodreads
four-stars
Pink is my favorite color. I used to say my favorite color was black to be cool, but it is pink—all shades of pink. If I have an accessory, it is probably pink. I read Vogue, and I’m not doing it ironically, though it might seem that way. I once live-tweeted the September issue.
In these funny and insightful essays, Roxane Gay takes us through the journey of her evolution as a woman of color while also taking readers on a ride through culture of the last few years and commenting on the state of feminism today. The portrait that emerges is not only one of an incredibly insightful woman continually growing to understand herself and our society, but also one of our culture.
Bad Feminist is a sharp, funny, and spot-on look at the ways in which the culture we consume becomes who we are, and an inspiring call-to-arms of all the ways we still need to do better.

I honestly don’t read a lot of non-fiction books or essay collections. However, I’ve been a fan of Roxane Gay since I read one of her fiction short stories on Rookie Mag years ago. I’ve wanted to read Bad Feminist for awhile, but just now got around to finally reading it. I’m glad that I did because it’s definitely a worthwhile read. Truthfully, I was surprised by how many negative reviews of this book that I read. In my opinion, Gay has done her research on these topics and isn’t afraid to share what she really thinks about pop culture, racism, gender, sexuality, and other topics. Though I know that you might always agree with what she had to say, but I personally was still able to respect her opinions regardless.

I’m not entirely sure how to review this book since it consists of various essays that sorted depending on the topic. While I found most of the essays to be engaging, there were certainly some standouts as well. One of my favorites was “The Trouble with Prince Charming, or He Who Trespassed Against Us.” She talks about how the “princes” in fairy tales and literature are extremely problematic at times. She first talks about Disney princes like Eric from Little Mermaid, Prince Charming from Snow White, and even the Beast from Beauty and the Beast. She makes the point that the female characters have to make some kind of sacrifice in order to be with that prince. Gay then looks at more modern literature like Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey, where both love interests are super possessive and the heroine has to give up a part of herself in able to be with him. It’s definitely a fascinating and truthful take on how popular culture can seriously damage our views on love.

As I stated before, not everyone is going to agree with the TV shows and movies that Gay criticizes. When she’s talking about race, she criticizes ridiculously popular movies like The Help, Django Unchained, 12 Years a Slave, and Tyler Perry’s movies. I’m not going to lie, I personally was a fan of The Help, but I still believe that Gay’s analysis of it was well thought out, and honestly something that I sadly hadn’t considered before. She also analyzes Orange is the New Black, which is a show that I love. Gay wasn’t totally impressed with the first season, and I do agree that it acknowledges that it’s diverse a little too often. But I feel like it was a lot more fleshed out in the following seasons where Piper wasn’t the primary focus. It is a sad truth that the white characters seem to have more of a sexuality than everyone else, with the exception of a few characters.

I could go on and on about each essay written by Roxane Gay, but I’ll just leave it at that. I think that she’s an awesome author and I can’t wait to read more of her works, both fiction and nonfiction. Is this a perfect collection? No, not really, but that isn’t really the point. The point is that this is an honest and compelling work about modern feminism and what exactly it means to different women. This book might not be for everyone, but it’s still an entertaining and well written book that I’m happy that I finally got around to reading.

four-stars

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