Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Review: Difficult Women by Roxane Gay

Title: Difficult Women
Author: Roxane Gay
Publisher: Corsair
Pages: 272
Genres: Short Story Collection

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 elder sister's marriage. 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.
This is a short story collection focusing on troubled women. Women who lead bizarre lives and have weird sex. I find it so hard to rate short story collections because my ratings for each of the twenty-one stories vary wildly. The title story was actually my least favourite.

The collection starts off very strong, I Will Follow You is about two sisters who have a very close bond because when they were children one of them got abducted by a man in a van and the other jumped in so she wouldn't go through it alone. It was haunting and it stuck with me for days. The other stories I gave five stars were, The Mark of Cain, La Negra Blanca, North Country, and Best Features. The rest fluctuated between two and four stars. Violence is a common theme linking all of the stories and some had elements of magical realism. All of them focus on the complex lives some women lead with often dysfunctional relationships with men. Despite their circumstances, these women aren't powerless, if anything they each display profound resilience in some form.

Roxane Gay's writing was phenomenal as always and her wit and wry humour came through in some of the lighter stories. I was thoroughly entertained throughout and will continue to pick up any book that has her name on it.

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