Contemporary Realistic Fiction · Modern Fantasy · Review

Difficult Women by Roxane Gay

difficult-women-by-roxane-gayPublisher: Grove Press

Pub. Date: 2017

Genre: Contemporary Realistic Fiction, Fantasy, Short Stories

Pages: 260

Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Difficult Women, by Roxane Gay, is an anthology of the fictional lives of women: difficult women, loose women, crazy women, frigid women, married women, and dead women. There are some flash fiction, contemporary realistic fiction, fantasy and other types of short stories. This collection expands the labels given to “difficult” women, and they show each woman in the story as a real person, how she got this way, and why she is the person she is.

We were required to read this anthology for a creative writing class. I was surprised that such a new book was required. A few days before I had to have a portion of the book read, a friend recommended I read Gay’s other books, so I felt encouraged about it being good. The main thing that disappointed me, since I was reading it for a course, is that the ebook is not paginated.

I did not care for the flash fiction because they were too short for me to catch the plot or the characters for long enough to hold my interest. I especially pick on the character part of that since this is supposed to be literary fiction. Fortunately, the other stories were long enough to for me to get attached to the characters and what they were doing.

As expected of literary fiction, the stories are very character driven. The women’s stories were compelling. I was also pleasantly surprised that the fantasy stories were good since the stories we have to write for class are set in the real world, like most of the stories we are reading this semester. My favorite stories of the collection were “I Will Follow You,” “La Negra Blanca,” “How,” “Requiem for a Glass Heart,” and “The Sacrifice of Darkness.” These cover some of the variety of women, subjects, themes, and genres of the anthology.

The cover is stunning, but it is too abstract to understand what you will find in this book. The font is good. Pink shows the focus on women because of our culture. The central image of the cover looks vaguely like a heart, but that does not tell me a lot other than love is involved. The only clue to the content is the title, which is not bad, but I wish that the central image did more.

If you prefer reading short stories or need a break from reading novels, this book is a good choice. Full of character-driven stories, the book offers short stories that depict the lives of difficult women, and they are offered in a variety of genres and with a diverse cast.

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