Hello, internet people! This week, I’m writing about Roxane Gay’s Difficult Women. Let me just start off by saying, this one was, well, difficult (do you see what I did there?).
I always struggle with short story collections–for some reason, knowing I’ll only be spending a short time with a character before moving to someone new makes it hard for me to get attached. For all that, the stories in Difficult Women managed to thoroughly break my soul.
I originally started reading an eGalley (which I received in exchange for my honest review), but I couldn’t finish it during the semester–it was too heavy to be read in between grad school assignments.
As soon as the semester wrapped up, I returned to the book to finish it. Each story carries a great deal of darkness, showing the variety of ways in which one can have a difficult life. Some of the stories have elements of magic realism, such as “Glass Houses” in which a man marries a glass wife.
Not every story ends with complete hopelessness, but none of the stories are what I’d call happy. Roxane Gay tackles all kinds of difficult issues, like the death of a child, sexual abuse, infidelity, the loss of love, and more. It is a heartbreakingly difficult read, but of course it is also beautifully, masterfully written in such a way that, in the immortal words of Ron Weasley, “you’re gonna suffer, but you’re gonna be happy about it.”
So I do recommend this book, especially to women or to men who want to know what it’s like to be a woman in this difficult world. I don’t, however, recommend it if you’re looking for something to bring on the cheer as we enter the summer months. This book will break you. But it will do it with grace, with wisdom, and of course, with good writing.