Roxane Gay’s writing is fierce and smoldering, full of jagged, sharp language and characters “difficult” like a thorn in the side, a nagging splinter. “Difficult Women” contains stories that are sexual, not sensual, peopled by characters who are victimized, but not victims. This forthcoming collection of short stories (to be published January 3, 2017) is raw, it is intense, and it is captivating.
Gay’s “Difficult Women” endure, and often seek, violence, fighting with every fiber of their beings to stay whole in an unforgiving world.
“Every time that man sank his fists into my body, I could breathe a little. I used one hurt to cover another. I became a fiercely tender bruise as he broke down my skin and muscle and bone and blood until I felt nothing but the way he used my body for a few perfect moments every day, moments I’d worry between my fingers until they were well worn away.”
They are self-aware, as well as self-deceiving.
“Milly felt nothing but she was very good at making men think otherwise. Sometimes, she nearly convinced herself.”
“I was too smart and that made people uncomfortable – most folks where we’ve lived our whole lives don’t trust too much intelligence in a woman. There is also the problem of my eyes – they don’t hide anything. If I don’t care for a person, my eyes make it plain. I don’t care for most. Folks are generally comfortable with the small lies they tell each other. They don’t know what to do with someone like me, who mostly doesn’t bother with small lies.”
“I’m brown enough to satisfy your desire to be with someone exotic but I’m not so brown as to crate insurmountable problems when we spend time with your family.”
Roxane Gay’s new book is entrancing, disturbing, and wickedly good. If you believe in or are vulnerable to trigger warnings, this may not be the book for you. It is a powder keg. But oh, what a glorious explosion it can generate. “Difficult Women” is brutally beautiful, and Roxane Gay is pure dynamite.
Thank you to Grove Press for the complimentary Advanced Copy in exchange for a fair and honest review.