Difficult Women

Difficult Women

Book - 2017
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"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"-- Provided by publisher.
Uniform Title: Short stories. Selections
Publisher: New York : Grove Press, 2017
Characteristics: viii, 260 pages ; 22 cm
Edition: First Grove Atlantic hardcover edition
Copyright Date: ©2017
ISBN: 9780802125392 (hardcover)
Call Number: FICTION GAY


From Library Staff

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 and are in marriages both loving and haunted by past crimes or emotional blackmail.

A collection of short stories about women who live outside society's expected norms. Suitable for: Adults.

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This was my first time reading Roxane Gay and it won't be the last. If you enjoy reading stories about complex, defiant women, please, please read this book.

Jul 16, 2019

This collection of short stories is amazing. Each convey a deeper message be it dark or encouraging. The variety in writing styles, characters and even genres made it easy to keep reading them one after the other despite being by the same author. Beautiful. Highly recommend.

Apr 29, 2018

I'm starting to have NO WORDS for almost every bad book I read. This is passable for most audiences? I just commented to a friend who didn't enjoy this collection that Roxanne Gay has managed to take dark, disturbing subject matter, made it exponentially more repulsive, but BORING at the same time. How? With the flattest, dullest writing this side of a bottle of Tylenol. So you're trapped in this book, reading about the ongoing rape of two children, but the writing isn't even good enough to justify the horrible feelings you experience reading it. If you value your time, pass on Difficult Women.

Dec 17, 2017

From the title, I thought this might be about strong (and not so strong) women trying to make it in the world of men on their own terms and with as little injury and trespass to their bodies and souls as possible (hence being labelled "difficult women" for not being compliant), but it is, rather, about women with serious mental health/self esteem issues who purposely choose to be abused and neglected. The stories are not told in a way that elucidates such things, or invokes compassion, but more as a lurid show-and-tell of just how perverse the author dare go. It began to feel more and more contrived and hollow with each story, and exceedingly dreary. I soon reached a point where I could no longer stand to be so pointlessly and repeatedly battered - unlike many of the characters - and stopped reading.

Nov 13, 2017

This book is just story after story about victimized women. I had only read Roxane Gay’s non-fiction before this, and I much prefer that. The honesty and wit she shows in her essays aren’t always present in these short stories. There were some standout stories here, but other stories start to blur together or are too fantastical.

mawls Sep 22, 2017

A collection of beautiful dark stories with enticing and vivid characters.

samcmar May 01, 2017

Difficult Women is one of those short story collections that is incredibly raw from story to story. Many of what Gay's heroines portray are women who are "difficult" in the sense that they are unconventional, not following specific female binaries, and they are intense. Some of the stories are very heartbreaking, tragic, others are hopeful. There's an honesty in Gay's writing that makes each story compulsively readable. If you like short story collections, this is a great read.

athompson10 May 01, 2017

Varied collection of short stories, some with a fantasy/fable-like atmosphere. Apt title, as all the stories have strong, interesting women who are dealing with their choices, often involving bad choices with bad men. Lots of violence, sex and alienation, but despite that it's not a depressing collection.

Apr 02, 2017

Heartbreaking. Disturbing. Raw. Hopeful. Genius.

The stories that resonated most with me (in no particular order):

The Mark of Cain
La Negra Blanca
North Country
Break All the Way Down
A Pat
Best Features (My favourite by far!)

Mar 12, 2017

At first, I wasn't certain about the format, but after a few chapters I felt myself wishing for more information on each of the "difficult women." While a lot of this book was dark, I found that it was also very beautiful. No matter how much of a stretch each situation seemed to be, I felt like it was possible for each of these women (and men) to be real, aside from two chapters that felt more sci-fi than the rest. But even those chapters were gorgeous.


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