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text 2017-07-16 04:13
What I've read since I've been away...
Difficult Women - Roxane Gay
Fearless Creating - Eric Maisel
Baltimore Blues - Laura Lippman
The Hate U Give - Angie Thomas
The Girl with All the Gifts - M.R. Carey
Al Franken, Giant of the Senate - Al Franken
Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Res... Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy - Sheryl Sandberg,Adam Grant
Dangerous Ends: (Pete Fernandez Book 3) ... Dangerous Ends: (Pete Fernandez Book 3) - Alex Segura

Difficult Women by Roxanne Gay
Fearless Creating by Eric Maisel
Baltimore Blues by Laura Lippman
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
The Girl With All The Gifts by MR Carey
The Widow Nash by Jamie Harrison
Giant of the Senate by Al Franken
Option B - Facing Adversity, Building Resilience and Finding Joy. 
Dangerous Ends by Alex Segura



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review 2017-07-14 00:00
Difficult Women
Difficult Women - Roxane Gay Difficult Women - Roxane Gay This book is pretty fantastic on the whole even though it routinely tore my heart out. The epigraph is among my favorites:

"For difficult women, who should be celebrated for their very nature."
The theme of difficult women was well represented and I loved all these women, specifically for their flaws. Most of them are broken somehow and it is this part of the theme that I feel is way too underrated in modern writing. Many of these women lead difficult lives and many of the circumstances in the stories were likewise difficult. This is not a book about prima donnas or women that give men a hard time for kicks. It's not a book about women who generally have it easy but dare to complain about this or that discomfort. They are difficult. Life is difficult.

I don't want to sound cliche about it, but they are the real women of the world, the women with all their baggage from dealing with the hardships of life, the realities of life that isn't a sitcom or a romcom. Life can be tragic and it's this aspect of it that we sometimes fail to showcase in literature because we'd rather everything be larger than life with problems that seem great but that everyone will essentially survive in the end. It is when people write women like this that literature takes a turn for the far more interesting for me and I have a feeling I'm not the only one who feels that way. It's a book for anyone who ever enjoyed Kindred or Antigone or Madame Bovary, which all had difficult women.

The writing in each is amazing and there was one that I couldn't finish because it was a triggering about a personal event. You'll see which later. I don't do well with some stories about child deaths. I can get through some, but others bring me back to a place that it isn't worth going for me. Similarly, if you are triggered by sexual assault or rape or abusive relationships, don't read this book.

While I'll easily recommend the book as a whole to anyone else, here are some notes on the individual stories:

I Will Follow You - beautifully heartbreaking in a way that makes me feel like women can get through anything, particularly when we have another woman to stick with.
Water, All Its Weight - strange and sad, the imagery is great and there is an undercurrent that keeps the fantasy side from running away with the idea of how anything could weigh you down.
The Mark of Cain - unusual but it was great to see a switch on the typical way this kind of story is written.
Difficult Women - the format is a little unusual, but this is something I do when I see women that others call difficult
FLORIDA - again with a different unusual format but along the same lines as the last, making stories for people we see everyday
Le Negra Blanca - this one just infuriates me. it's all of the problems of women, particularly women of color, and the way society looks at us wrapped into one story
Baby Arm - this is easily my favorite! It's weird and gory and I could never imagine being at this best friend level but it's intriguing nonetheless.
North Country - this is a welcome reprieve after some of the others but complete with it's own issues
How - the format is a little strange because it's laid out in a how-did-this-happen kind of way that helped that story along despite that it was just sad in that way that brings you down but doesn't break your heart.
Requiem for a Glass Heart - beautiful imagery for some of life's problems.
In the Event of My Father's Death - I just appreciate that this one exists in all it's messiness, not because I particularly like any character but that I know they are out there and should be written about too.
Break All the Way Down - this is the one I couldn't finish. It seemed written as well as the others but was tearing me down.
Bad Priest - more fun than I anticipated though horribly irreverent and sacreligious in a way would be delightful if I wasn't a Christian. Still kinda fun to read though.
Open Marriage - adorable
A Pat - I wasn't entirely sure what to make of the story part but it has a sentiment that I can totally get with.
Best Features - another story that's sad but not unusual in the world of women
Bone Density - sometimes marriages work in the strangest of ways. I've heard of some women making it work just like this.
I Am a Knife - this one totally grossed me out over and over again.
The Sacrifice of Darkness - I really like this one, it was odd but uplifting overall
Noble Things - this one had to be a crazy exercise in imagining just how the country may eventually fall apart and just what the fallout would look like. Their struggles weren't all that unusual, just the setting
Strange Gods - the worst of the heartbreak was here. I think it's because I had already read Bad Feminist and I had a feeling where some of this was going.
Many of the scenarios in the stories weren't beyond my ability to imagine. Some are the very worst of the female experience, the things that makes us fear walking the streets alone at night but sometimes more afraid of trusting some men enough to take them with us. Others were just sad because, like men, we can get stuck in lives we never intended to live. There were also those few that were either uplifting or adorable or fun. I'd be willing to watch a movie that expands on the idea of Baby Arm, Noble Things, Bad Priest or The Sacrifice of Darkness.

Overall, Gay is right. Difficult women do need to be celebrated more. Fortunately, I think we've started to do that more in our media. We've gotten some television shows in recent years that have started to pay more attention to us and I've been really enjoying it. I hope it continues and we find more difficult women to celebrate.
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review 2017-03-30 03:58
Difficult Women
Difficult Women - Roxane Gay

I discovered Roxane Gay through her essays about feminism, pop culture, and her life. Her voice immediately captivated me with her thoughtful reflections on a wide variety of topics, so I was excited to read a collection of her short stories. Unfortunately, I didn't find them as captivating as her essays.

 

There's no question for me that Roxane Gay is a talented writer. All her short stories were unique and focused on women from different backgrounds. However, short stories tend to be fairly hit or miss for me. More often than not with the stories I appreciated the story she was telling, but didn't connect emotionally with it. There were a handful that where I was drawn in to the story, but that was sadly just not the case for most of them. I wish I loved her fiction writing as much as I love her non-fiction. Sadly, I seem to merely like it.

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review 2017-03-28 21:37
Give this Collection, 4 Stars
Difficult Women - Roxane Gay

I honestly didn't like some of the stories which is why I ended up giving this collection as a whole 4 stars. Gay writes extremely well though. I can honestly say that I could picture everything that she was describing in her stories. To the point a few times I had to hug myself at the end of a story. I am happy that I bought this though since I can see myself in the future re-reading some of my favorite stories, and that's how you know you have a home-run with me that even without it being a 5 star rated book by me, I have every intention of coming back and thinking about what was written. I honestly wish that Gay would come back and revisit some of these characters in future works.

 

"I Will Follow You" (5 stars)-The love that a pair of sisters have for one another. This story sets the stage for the rest of the collection. I actually re-read this one twice just because I wanted to let the story live longer with me. Heartbreaking and full of hope at the same time. 

 

"Water, All Its Weight" (3 stars)-I honestly was confused with this one. It definitely had a fairytale aspect to it. But after reading the previous story, I guess I wasn't in the headspace for something I found to just be quirky.

 

"The Mark of Cain" (3 stars)-This one was weird. A woman pulled between two brothers. I honestly didn't get why she made the choices she did. I think throughout the whole story I was just confused. I don't know why anyone would say to themselves this is a good life. But maybe that was the lesson that Gay was trying to get across.

 

"Difficult Women" (5 stars)-I loved how Gay breaks down all of the cliches we have all heard before about women. Breaking things down so that you can see the woman behind the loose, frigid, and crazy. About seeing what mothers and even dead girls think about. Wonderful from beginning to end.

 

When a Crazy Woman is Misunderstood

It started with a phone call after a third date where she followed him home and they had sex, nothing memorable, but overall, adequate. 

They had breakfast at the diner next door.

He ate eggs, scrambled soft.

She had pancakes, doused in syrup and butter.

"I can't believe you're a woman who eats," he said. 

"You're a goddamned dream.

 

FLORDIA (5 stars)-Once again Gay breaks down a community of women that live in a gated community in Florida. 

 

La Negra Blanca (4 stars)-A look at a woman who is passing as white who uses what she has body wise to pay for school. I like the story, but think adding in the customer to it made it a little too Hollywood movie for me. He was also a gross figure and the whole ending left me with chills. I maybe made sure my door was locked at the end of this story.

 

"Baby Arm" (2 stars)-My least favorite of all of the stories. I don't know, I feel like this is something that I maybe once upon watched on Adult Swim at night one time. Only in anime form or something. I also started giggling remembering 30 Rock with Liz Lemon.

 

"North Country" (5 stars)-I loved this story from beginning to end. Reading about a woman learning to love again and a man who works his way into her heart was great. I would love to see this brought to film one day. The narrator's story of how she ended up where she was to meet Magnus was great. 


"How" (3 stars)-Eh. I think that it was just okay. I didn't have any big takeaways from it. And I hate how the character of Hanna never did reveal what her mother had to say. 

 

"Requiem for a Glass Heart" (2 stars)-I didn't really care for this story much. Once again based on what went before, it was just okay.

 

"In the Event of My Father's Death" (3 stars)-I hated the ending.

 

"Break All the Way Down" (5 stars)-Once again this story brought to film would be wonderful. I loved it. I also got why the main character was punishing herself. When the reveal comes out you will get it too. 

 

"Bad Priest" (3 stars)-Just made me think about the Thorn Birds. Nothing Earth shattering here. 

 

"Open Marriage" (4 stars)-The shortest of the short stories and the one that did crack me up. 

 

"Best Features" (5 stars)-I loved Milly and sat and thought to myself how many of my friends and even me have had that thing drilled into our heads due to what is considered undesirable. I was made fun of for being light skinned and would often sit outside to make myself darker. For some African American men I am too dark, for others, not light enough, for some white men definitely too dark and for some of them they want someone dark skinned to make things more "exotic." With Milly being heavy weight she always feels as if she has to give in anytime a man shows her interest since she knows that she is not seen as desirable like thin women are. Just loved the whole story. It really made me think.

 

"Bone Density" (5 stars)-The ins and outs of marriage. I am pretty happy that I am single after reading this story.

 

"I Am a Knife" (3 stars)-Once again I didn't get this until almost the end. But I have to say that I got bored with reading the word knife over and over again.

 

"The Sacrifice of Darkness" (4.5 stars)-I liked this one though I found most of it to be odd. If you can get your head past the central premise of the story you may like it too.

 

"Noble Things" (4 stars)-Way too soon after the US election and Gay imagines a world in which we have another Civil War. I liked this story, but thought the ending didn't quite get there. 

 

"Strange Gods" (5 stars)-A powerful ending to this collection. Until you get to the reveal you don't get what is happening with our narrator. You just know that she loves the man she's with and is in a stream of consciousness writing tell him her beginning that he is unaware of right now.

 

I liked for the most part that in every story that the women/girls within it were not just white and that so many issues were brought up in this collection: rape, spousal abuse, lying, sexual needs, faith, sin, hope, I can go on. Definitely worth a read!

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text 2017-03-28 02:01
Reading progress update: I've read 191 out of 272 pages.
Difficult Women - Roxane Gay

So far my thoughts on this collection is mixed. Some stories blew me away and others puzzled me. My favs so far are: I Will Follow You, Difficult Women, FLORIDA, North County, How, Break All the Way Down, and Best Features. Stories that I didn't care for so far: Water, All It's Weight, The Mark of Cain, and Baby Arm.

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