Difficult Women, Roxane Gay
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Roxane Gay

Difficult Women

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Award-winning author and powerhouse talent Roxane Gay burst onto the scene with An Untamed State and the 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 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 reminiscent of Merritt Tierce, Jamie Quatro, and Miranda July.
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Eh. The second half got really boring/repetitive for me. Story after story of woman in slightly dysfunctional relationship with man but owning it, with TMI details of their sex lives that somehow remain pretty tame (or else, I suppose, these literate short stories would dip into erotica). There were one or two stories in the first half or first third I liked but I can't remember titles now; they sort of run together. Although I'm usually excited to see MI as a story setting, even though MI and the UP are used as settings a few times, as someone who grew up there and visits family there regularly, it doesn't feel very authentic or real, which was disappointing.

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My sister was the only place that made any sense.
A man, older like my father, crouched in the opening, staring, a strange smile hanging from his thin lips.

He grabbed me by the straps of my overalls and pulled me into the van.
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