When I finished the first story in Roxanne Gay’s ‘Difficult Women’, I had to take a break and figure out whether I wanted to cry or not. I think I tweeted at some point, that I had just realised that the book would make me feel feelings.
At that point, I thought it would just be the usual mix of sadness, triumph, hopefulness, anger, pain, and that familiar feeling of oh-my-God-Roxanne-Gay-is-an-amazing-writer. I was pleasantly surprised, and then thrilled by her historical futurism, allegory and fantasy stories. No spoilers 🙂
Whether with a tweet, an article, or a short story, she is excellent at making me feel feelings, and this book was no exception. What I was not expecting were the historical futurism, allegory and fantasy stories. No spoilers. I’ve quipped a couple of times about counting Gay as a fantasy writer because she wrote a Black Panther prequel. I was not entirely serious, but I am now and I’m paying attention. There is a story about a stone thrower who marries a glass woman which sent my mind reeling with all sorts of imaginings… Most of the best stories ever, I believe, leave you imagining more… because they never seem like they really ended, and this story – Requiem for a Glass Heart – is one such story.
It’s an eclectic mix of fantasy, gritty realism and a whole world of heartbreak, wonder and stubborn home in between. I loved everything about Difficult Women, and I am now quite happily a Roxanne Gay stan for life.
To say I enjoyed reading it doesn’t seem like the right way to characterise my experience. It is not light reading, and if you have trauma in your past, this book is likely to bring up memories… Even without past trauma, a reader will find many of these stories dark. The thing about that darkness is that there are usually glimmers of light, but not in the usual neat ways where light overcomes happiness and every thing is cast in maximum saturation. The darkness is complex and contradictory and there is not a lot happily ever afters, but this doesn’t mean there is no happiness at all… it is what it is
I received my copy – an uncorrected bound proof – from Susan de Soissons of Little Brown Book Group, via Ghana’s favourite literary event organiser @BrunchoverBooks. Follow @BrunchoverBooks on twitter for book chats, book swap events and giveaways!